He was born December 30, 1928 in Allen, Nebraska to Cyril Maxwell Puckett and Eleanor Maria (Emry) Puckett, the fourth of ten children. After moving to Victor, Montana, when Keith was still a boy, the family settled in Greenleaf, Idaho, to be close to the Greenleaf Friends Academy, where Keith graduated in 1947. He worked in the Caldwell area, then moved to Portland where he attended George Fox College (now George Fox University) before enlisting United States Navy in 1952. He trained as a mechanics mate on diesel submarines, which set the course of his life for the next several decades. He served in Korean War, was stationed in Guam, where he played on the Navy football team and became proficient at SCUBA and free diving, amassing an impressive collection of seashells, many of which are still on display at George Fox University. He was honorably discharged in 1956.
Moving to Portland, Oregon, he met Jacqueline Ann Linn and after a short courtship, they were married at Mt. Scott Church of the Nazarene in Portland, on December 28, 1956. They attended Cascade College (now part of Portland Community College) together in 1957. Keith was then hired by the Southern Pacific Railroad as a fireman on the diesel locomotives. He qualified as a Locomotive Engineer (Hoghead) on Christmas Day 1973.
After leaving the railroad in the late 1970’s, he drove long-distance trucks well into his 60’s. His CB handle was ‘Diesel Smoke’. He covered all but one of the 50 States in his travels, as well as Canada and Mexico, Burma, Japan and several Caribbean Islands. In addition to his career running diesel machines, he started Top Hat Honey, keeping up to 50 hives of bees, capturing swarms, and offering orchard pollination along the West Coast. He also cut and sold hundreds of cords of firewood and thousands of cedar posts.
Keith and Jacqueline settled in Gresham, Oregon in 1967 and raised five children. Keith move to Central Idaho in the late 1980’s and continued working as a truck driver until a few years before his death.
Early on, Keith started reading adventure stories about buried treasure and the Wild West. They fed his need to see what was over the next hill. He was an avid, life-long fisherman, hunter, prospector, rock hound, photographer and lover of the outdoors. He began flying single-engine aircraft in the 1950’s and recorded his first solo flight in 1967, eventually gaining his Private Pilot’s License, with Twin-Engine Rating and Seaplane Rating. He owned a few boats. He picked wild berries and fruit and made jams and jellies, which he gave as gifts. He impersonated Abraham Lincoln for an Americana pageant. He enjoyed music, especially Scottish tunes and Southern Gospel, singing in barbershop quartets, and other groups. He collected coins, books, relics and memorabilia. He took up oil painting later in life. He could always be relied upon to play a mean game of cribbage. He was equipped with an arsenal of jokes, which he would unleash without warning. He was a big man with a big heart. His faith in Christ was the anchor and the lodestone of his life. He wore out more than one sturdy Bible from reading, studying and highlighting. His favorite Psalm was the 121st. He often looked to the hills.
Keith was a member of the National Rifle Association, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, American Legion, Moscow Church of the Nazarene, and the Royal Order of the Shellbacks for crossing the equator in a submarine. He was certified as an Airman by the Oregon State Aeronautics Division.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and three siblings: Lauretta (Puckett) Guenther, Bennie Puckett, Mary Elizabeth Puckett. He is survived by brothers, Wayne, Larry, Kenneth, and Bobbie, and sisters Marilyn (Puckett) Meyers and Peggy (Puckett) Morse. Keith is also survived by his five children, Cynthia Joy Wilkinson of Portland, Oregon, Theresa Gay Haatia of Gresham, Oregon, James Robert of Oak Grove, Oregon, Timothy Keith of Wood Village, Oregon, Jessica Linn Evans of Moscow, and their mother, Jacqueline, also of Wood Village, as well as twelve grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.
He will be buried at 10:30 A.M. on Thursday, July 13th at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.
Keith asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Greenleaf Quaker Academy in Greenleaf, Idaho, with his undying gratitude.
Arrangements were entrusted to Short’s Funeral Chapel, Moscow, and online condolences may be sent to www.shortsfuneralchapel.net.