In the fall of 1971 we moved to Olympia and bought a house in Ken Lake. It was a wonderful neighborhood with good neighbors all around our new home. As soon as the moving truck had cleared the driveway our doorbell rang and Perry Keithley introduced himself and welcomed us to the neighborhood. To our good fortune Perry, his wife Judy and one year old son Todd were our next door neighbors. We had two children at the time with Lynn who was three and Brian who was one. In the next year and a half Blair Keithley and Doug Purdy were born to their respective families. The five children became fast friends and in turn formed a close bond between the two families.
Perry could be best described as a raconteur who was always ready with a good story, a quip or joke. Those quips were frequently credited to his father. Perry loved to talk to people and was a good listener as well. He was extremely well read with a preference for non-fiction. Perry read several newspapers each day and is the only person that I have known who read the entire Sunday New York Times every week. After he retired he enhanced his newspaper consumption by cutting out articles that he thought might interest friends and sending them out in the mail. This is what I called the Keithley Klipping Service and every time one of his envelopes would show up in our mailbox it would make me smile.
One thing that few people knew is that two or three times a week Perry would knock on our front door with his signature Shave and a Haircut knock at about nine thirty at night. He waited to that hour knowing that the kids would be in bed and I would be sitting up reading. The purpose of those visits was just to talk. Our conversations covered a wide range of topics from world and national events to what was going on in State government. Although we didnt agree on some issues we never argued. Perry had the unique ability to see both sides of any issue and knew that nothing is black or white but shades of grey and subject to different interpretations. To this day, late in the evening, I sometimes fondly recall Perrys knock on our front door.
When I worked for the State of Washington I managed the money invested in bonds for the retirement systems. This put me in daily contact with stock and bond brokers in New York City (sometimes a stuffy bunch that thought anybody and anything west of the Hudson River was uncivilized). Periodically they would come to the west coast and stop by our office and take us out to lunch. On one occasion I was enjoying lunch, at a local restaurant, with some men from New York and suddenly one of them leaned over and whispered in my ear There is someone behind you scratching his back with his fork. When I turned to see what he was taking about I saw my friend and neighbor Perry Keithley scratching away with his fork. I promptly chided him on what he was doing but Perry was not the least bit embarrassed and seemed to enjoy the attention.
Some people collect stamps or coins as a hobby. Perry liked and collected interesting people which he in turn made into friends. This is something he did his entire life resulted in Perry knowing a lot of people. I always have felt it was a privilege to be considered a friend by such a fine man.
It is hard to accept that Perry is gone and we will never again hear his Shave and a haircut knock on our front door. He will be missed.
Jan, Wayne, Lynn, Brian, Doug