Evelyn Orine (Thomas) Keys, or "Nanaw" to her family and friends, a longtime resident of Huntsville, Texas, passed away peacefully Saturday the 25th of February, 2017.
She is survived by her son John Rayford Keys and wife Betty of Huntsville, three grandchildren Russell Everett Keys and wife Sheryl of Huntsville, Karen Denise Keys of Irving and Jonathan Weldon Keys of Huntsville, two great-grandchildren Jakson Russell Keys and Avery True Keys, and a niece Glenda Mae Hostetter of Humble, Texas. She was preceded in death by her husband Rayford Wilbur Keys, father Simpson Thomas, mother Evelora Miles, step-father James Miles and sister Glennice (Miles) Smith.
Born in 1918 in Richards, Texas, Evelyn grew up in the Bays Chapel community with the Hoke family. She graduated from Richards High School in 1936 and attended Sam Houston State Teacher's College. She lived and worked in Huntsville until WW II when she moved to Houston with her family. In Houston, she worked in the shipyards until the end of the war. It was after the war, when she returned to Huntsville that Evelyn met Rayford Keys and married him in 1945. They had one son, John Rayford Keys born in 1947. Evelyn's' husband died unexpectedly in 1968 but she never remarried.
Evelyn was an independent woman and worked several jobs throughout her life, most notably at King's Drug Store where she sold cosmetics for 14 years and at Kerr's Department Store where she worked until her retirement in 2006. Evelyn was also an avid fisherman, gardener, and baseball fan. If the Astros or Braves were on, you can be sure she was watching.
When her son married and had children of his own, she became an integral part of their lives, sharing many of her interests with them. John and his family moved into the family home that Evelyn's stepfather had built on Montgomery Rd, and she moved into an apartment on the same plot of family land. This proximity made morning pick-ups and afternoon drop-offs of her grandchildren for school convenient, but it also ensured that trips to Nanaw's house were an easy walk down the "Red Rock Road." Visits from her grandchildren were frequent and later included their friends who adopted her as their own "Nanaw." Her home was open to all with an offer for a cold drink or a meal. More than anything she lived for her grandchildren. Through the years she attended hundreds soccer, baseball, softball and football games. No matter home or away, rain or shine, she was in the stands cheering on her grandchildren.
In her later years after retirement, Nanaw invented reasons to "go to town" in the hopes of running into any of her old Kerr's customers.
She was a "people person" that enjoyed catching up on the latest news. She touched many people's lives and will be dearly missed.
Services will be held Tuesday, February 28th at 10 AM at Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home. Interment will follow at Adickes Addition of Oakwood Cemetery. The family will receive friends Monday the 27th from 5-7 PM at the funeral home.
The family would like to thank Huntsville Health Care Center for their love and care given to Evelyn during her stay there for the past four years. They would also like to thank Heart to Heart Hospice for their assistance during her final days.
For those wishing to do so, memorial donations may be made to the Wesley Memorial Methodist Church or charity of your choice.
Full obituary may be viewed and memorial condolences made to the family at www.shmfh.com.
Published on  February 27, 2017