Marilyn Keyes

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UPDATE: Memorial services will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2024, at 3:00 p.m. from the Gaylord Golf Club, 4893 West M-32, in Gaylord.

Marilyn (Graham) Keyes passed away unexpectedly on October 12, 2023, at 95 years young and still in the prime of her life.

Marilyn was born on April 13, 1928, in Bay City, Michigan to Charles and Mamie Graham, the long-awaited daughter in a family already comprised of two big brothers, Bob and Don. She was quick to see that being the youngest had its disadvantages and was always trying to keep up with her brothers. When her older brother started kindergarten, Marilyn begged and pleaded to go too and although only four years old, she got her way.

During grade school, Marilyn’s family moved to East Lansing, MI, to a house on Grand River, right across the street from Michigan State University, and thus began a lifelong love of everything Spartan for Marilyn. During the summers, she and her older brother Don would explore the campus from morning until late afternoon, never tiring of the sights and sounds of MSU. It was no surprise that when Marilyn was ready for college, her first and only choice was Michigan State.

And the story only gets sweeter. Marilyn met the love of her life, a charming and handsome veteran and WWII pilot, Dick (Richard) Keyes at MSU. They married on June 25, 1949, surrounded by friends and family. Dick and Marilyn eventually returned to the Detroit area to work and start a family together.

 As family life soon became the center of Marilyn’s life, a group of Kappa sorority sisters were gathering for coffee and play groups. Soon the husbands came on board and the Potluck Group was formed. More like a large extended family than a group of friends, “Potluck” nurtured three generations of loving relationships and, of course, devoted Spartan fans. “Potluck Love” is our motto.

Marilyn’s true mission in life began when she became a mother and homemaker. Her take-charge personality and loving, but high expectations enabled Marilyn to instill the virtues of hard work, responsibility, compassion, honesty, loyalty, and love of life in all three of her children. Her lovely home was beautiful, welcoming, and joyful. She worked hard at being the best she could be. She expected no less from her children.

Dick and Marilyn joined Red Run Golf Club when their three children, Claudia, Doug, and Steve were in grade school. While the kids spent summers at the pool, on the swim team, or playing golf, Marilyn took up a new interest – the game of golf. It soon became a lifelong passion, and she was a superstar. Dick and Marilyn made many lifelong friends at Red Run.

 When Dick retired the dream of having a home in Northern Michigan became a reality. Dick and Marilyn found a “project” on Lake 27 in Gaylord and turned it into a gorgeous lakefront home that welcomed family and friends for many years. Then in their 70’s, they decided to build a home on the golf course at Gaylord Country Club.

Marilyn became active in all that Gaylord had to offer. She and Dick were lifelong Episcopalians and became active members at St. Andrew Episcopal Church where Marilyn worshiped and served faithfully.

She volunteered in many capacities – from hospice to the gift shop at Otsego Memorial Hospital, to overseeing the planting and maintaining of all the flowers at Gaylord Country Club, to RSVP, to the Food Pantry, and many more unseen works of charity and service in her daily life.

She was seen on the golf course, on the ski hills, and at the bridge table. Dick used to tease her and call her “the shark” because her competitive spirit and knowledge of the game of bridge could be frightening to an unexpecting opponent.

Marilyn and Dick’s beloved family grew bigger and even more treasured with the birth of each grandchild and great-grandchild. How they loved these precious new lives and how in turn their lives were blessed by them. After Dick passed away, Marilyn grew even more devoted to Melissa, Bill, Carly, and Piper and their spouses Matt (Melissa) and Leland (Piper). When the great-grandchildren came, she was over the moon with love for each one of them. She remembered each one’s birthday, and always sent cards on Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and just to say she was thinking of them and sending them love. And it was so important to her to remember them in her prayers as she did for each one of her children and grandchildren.

Because Marilyn only expected the very best from herself, she was a friend who could always be counted on – for support, kindness, compassion, and consolation. She was admired for her dignity, grace, and humility. And all this came from her loving heart and thoughtful countenance. She will be greatly missed.

Marilyn is survived by her children, Claudia (Ronald) St. Amour, and Steve (Judy) Keyes; by her grandchildren, Melissa (Matthew) McDonald, William Marzella, Carly Keyes, Piper (Leland) Keyes-Ursu; and by her great-grandchildren, Maggie McDonald, Leah McDonald, Felix Keyes-Ursu, Emma St. Amour, and Zoe St. Amour. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard; son, Douglas; and beloved grandchildren, Matthew, Stephanie, and Samantha.

Donations in honor of Marilyn may be made to St. Andrew Episcopal Church, PO Box 920, Gaylord, MI, 49734.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Nelson Funeral Home and Cremation Service, PO Box 1548 Gaylord, MI 49734.

4 comments on “Marilyn Keyes”

  1. Oh Marilyn!! What a special friend you’ve been and we’ll miss you dearly, but always holding a place in our hearts for you!! You’ve taught me so much in the last 15 years, from golf to the never ending love for life. Every moment we’ve spent together has been a joy and memorable. Rest in peace my dear friend. Forever in our hearts.
    Bobette Friend and Dan Kidder

  2. The news of Marilyn’s passing comes as a shock as it seems like just last week I saw her at the mailbox of her country club home.
    Dick and Marilyn were my neighbors on Lake 27 and were a delight to know.
    Condolences and blessings to her family.

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