OBITUARY: Margaret Dowell Keith

Margaret Dowell Keith

29 Jan 1916 ~ 3 Jun 2022

Margaret Dowell Keith departed this mortal life June 3, 2022, at Thornton, Colorado, after 106 years of devotion to family, friends and the world around her. Margaret was born Jan. 29, 1916, at Crowley Ranch near Jordan Valley, Oregon, the fifth child to Charles Edward Dowell and Margaret Ewert Scott. Margaret survived the Spanish flu of 1918 when she was about 2 years old, survived appendicitis eventually traveling in a Model T. Ford to Burns for treatment, and the 2020-2022 Covid pandemic. She was the last surviving member of her immediate family.

Margaret began her education in a schoolroom located in a bunkhouse on the Crowley ranch. She took yearly tests for the state of Oregon which advanced her in each grade. As a youth Margaret spent her time working on the cattle ranch, cleaning and cooking meals for the crew and her brothers. After she and her sisters and mother prepared the huge noon meal, her mother would sit in a rocking chair and read to them. This daily habit instilled her great love of books and reading. Every Saturday, she and her sisters spent cleaning the five-bedroom ranch house, including mopping all the steps. After eighth grade she moved to the town of Ontario, Oregon, living with her uncle and aunt, Clyde and Etta Anderson so she could attend Ontario High School. She graduated with the class of 1934.

Margaret married Hubert Randolph Keith on April 10, 1936, in Mountain Home, Idaho. Margaret was introduced to Hubert by his sister Pauline Keith, Margaret’s high school friend. There were five children born to this union: James F. Keith (deceased); Gloria M. Keith Heath (Alan); David L. Keith (Rosalie Nelson Keith); Dennis R. Keith; and JoAnne Keith Heinonen. She is also survived by 12 grandchildren: Brenda

Keith and Heidi Keith MacFarline; Steven and Jennifer Heath; Lori Keith Steadman, Bryan and Andrew Keith, Lisa Keith Bell; Christopher, Ashley and Derek Heinonen and Melissa Heinonen Solin. Margaret will also be remembered by 12 great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, specifically Margie Holman who nurtured her during the years following Hubert’s death Sept. 6, 2000.

After marriage, the couple worked on the Crowley ranch until 1941 when they purchased her mother Margaret’s farm in Vale, Oregon. It was here that they raised their family. After some years Hubert worked as foreman for the Toole Construction Company, crushing rock for highway construction throughout the Snake River Valley and eastern Oregon.

With her husband traveling, Margaret cared for her children while maintaining the farm crops and animals. She succeeded at this difficult task both physically and emotionally. Eventually, she was able to travel in a trailer with Hubert until they retired in 1972. After retirement they spent many days fishing and traveling the deserts and hills of eastern Oregon. Margaret out-fished Hubert three to one using a worm and bobber. She loved growing flowers and vegetables; cooking, reading, and golfing. She crocheted blankets for all of her grandchildren.

During her final years she loved driving through the Colorado mountains and watching the elk, birds and other small creatures.

Margaret had an incredible memory. She told stories detailing people, places and her life experiences. She remembered her first doll which was purchased by funds from trapping coyotes by her father Charles. She always had just one dress. One summer she saved her money and purchased her first store-bought dress at the five and dime store. It was pink. Her winters included sledding in an apple box sled created by her father. During her high school years, Margaret was extremely shy and did not participate in sports, May Day dances or other events which brought attention to her. One year she was elected class president. Her friends assisted her and taught her how to be their leader. Hubert and Margaret’s first date was at a box lunch social. Hubert planned to bid on her decorated box so his trouble-maker friends kept bidding up its cost. He eventually paid $20 for the lunch, which was a lot of money in the 1930s. Margaret loved coffee, romance novels and dark chocolate.

Margaret was preceded in death by her husband Hubert Randolph Keith; her son James F. Keith; and members of her immediate family which included: her parents Charles and Margaret; brothers John Edward Dowell, “Tom” Turnbull Dowell, Robert “Bob” Dowell, Charles Edward Dowell; sisters Mary Dowell Maupin and Helen Dowell McLay.

Margaret will be honored in a memorial to be held at a later date. Donations in her memory can be sent to Ontario Community Library; 388 S.W. Second Ave.; Ontario, Oregon 97914.