Walter Thomas Keays

walter keays
Walter Thomas Keays, or just Walt to most (don't ever call him Wally), passed away at home surrounded by his family on Thanksgiving, November 25th, 2021 at the age of 80. He had a relatively short, aggressive battle with Cancer.

He was born on August 24th, 1941 in Whitehall, NY to his parents William and Hazel, but he and all of his siblings spent most of their childhood in foster care or state orphanages. Upon graduating high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps where he achieved the rank of Corporal and served as a Marine Security Guard. He was fortunate enough to be stationed at the American Embassy in Vientiane, Laos from 1962-1964 for a couple of reasons. First, this is where he met his future wife, Pauline Haftel. Second, some of the stories he told over the years of the goings on in a Marine House in the early 1960s are the envy of every red-blooded American man. They had a pet tiger, a black bear and a gibbon (that's a monkey) who had his own beer mug at their bar for heaven's sake.

He married Pauline on August 27th, 1966 and they remained married for the 55 years until his passing. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University and went on to have an amazing career in the restaurant industry, working for a variety of different companies. There wasn't a time that he would ever let anyone outwork him and his passion for cooking and food was on display daily. If you've had his potato or macaroni salad, you know.

Walter loved a good cup of coffee (from McDonald's when possible), his morning crossword puzzle, telling jokes (the cornier, the better), and surprising Pauline with all of the answers he knew on Jeopardy. There wasn't a Western he hadn't seen a thousand times and he probably watched John Wick, Jack Reacher and most other action movies 30 times each.

Walter is survived by his wife Pauline Keays, daughter Heather Collins and her husband Dwaine and granddaughter Alexandra; son Warren Keays and his wife Anna, grandsons Trevor and Everett as well as granddaughter Isla. He was preceded in death by his parents and all seven of his siblings Pret, Donald, Bill, Shirley, Dorothy, Katie and Gloria.

We will be gathering for a celebration of Walter's life on Saturday, December 11th from 2pm-4pm at Money and King Funeral Home, 171 Maple Ave W, Vienna, VA. For those interested, we will then be moving on to have food and drinks together because that is what he would have wanted. Details to come. Interment at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in honor of Walter to the American Cancer Society or the Marine Corps Toys for Tots.

We will miss his quick smile and big laugh every day.

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Memories Timeline


  1. We met Walt and his family in the nineties when we were both assigned to the U. S. Embassy, Bonn, Germany. We were close neighbors and soon became close friends. The “Heathers”, was our name for them due to the exceptionally close friendship between Walt and Pauline’s daughter, Heather, and our daughter, Marianne. We not only met friends but a family to us. We are in touch since then. Walt served as the Manager of the Embassy cafeteria and the American Community Club in Germany. He was always nice and kind to his staff. He welcomed his guests with a big smile. I rarely see him complain about work, guests or his staff. He taught me how to carve the Thanksgiving turkey. One of the memorable nights with Walt was when we celebrated our daughter Marianne birthday in a Syrian restaurant in the district area. We watched the belly dancers show and Samir said to Walt I can dance better than these girls. He replied show me. Samir stood up and went to the floor and started dancing the belly dance. Every time we spoke on the phone he asked when are we going back to Syrian restaurant. We will miss a wonderful brother and sincere family friend. We pray to our Lord to condole Pauline and all the family on their loss. May the Lord heal his sole and rest him in peace with all the Angels and Saints. Love Pat and Samir

    • This will remain one of our all time favorite memories of the various gatherings we’ve been so blessed to have between the Elias and Keays clans.

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