Keith L. Willets

Keith L. Willets of Elwood died Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 at Kearney Regional Hospital at the age of 99.

Services will be held Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. at Parkview Baptist Church in Lexington with Pastor John Shields officiating. Burial will follow at Elwood Cemetery.

Visitation will be Friday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. with family present from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Berryman Funeral Home.

Keith was born Dec. 11, 1920 on the Levine Farm on turkey creek south of Smithfield. Keith was the oldest of the four children of Carl and Eleanora (Nora Fastenau Willets). He graduated from Lexington High School with the class of 1938. He worked as a farm hand for the Bossungs near Johnson Lake. It was at this time he met Ruth Kirwan.  Keith boarded at Bossung’s and Ruth was teaching at the Antelope School and got room and board from Bossung’s as part of her pay. They were married on July 2, 1944 at the home of her mother, Flossie Kirwan, in Elwood.  Keith was Baptized earlier that morning at the Methodist Church in Elwood.

On July 3 they boarded the train in Lexington and moved to Clarksville, Tenn. Keith was stationed at Camp Campbell, KY.  At the end of his basic training Ruth moved back to Nebraska to resume teaching and Keith (as Ruth often joked) went to Europe for the Honeymoon. (He would reply to this “it wasn’t much of a honeymoon” during WWII). To this union were born five children Sandra (David Nienkamp) of Edgar, Patricia Luck of Lexington, John (Connie Hall) of Cozad, Kenneth Willets, and William Willets of Elwood.

He is survived by his daughters Sandra and Patricia, his sons, John and William and their families.  And numerous nieces  and nephews as well as many friends.

Keith was preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Nora, his three sisters. Juanita Bourbon, Maxine (Roger) Pegelow and Naomi (Donald) Teetor,  his son Kenneth, grandchildren , Sherry and Edward Willets, three brothers-in-law, three sisters-in-law and Ruth’s parents.

Memorials are suggested to the family in his name for later designation. Online condolences may be shared at

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