Robert Keyes Smith obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Robert Keyes Smith

June 8, 1927 - July 28, 2017

Obituary


Robert Keyes "R.K." Smith, 90, died Friday evening July 28, 2017, at Fieldstone Memory Care from the effects of Alzheimer's Disease. He was born on June 8, 1927, in Spokane, WA, second son of Lillian Marea Palmquist and Edgar Eugene Smith. R.K. grew up in Seattle where he graduated from Roosevelt High School and then earned Bachelor and Master Degrees in Art and Education from the University of Washington. He was a member of Delta Upsilon Fraternity, a member of the UW Alumni Club and Tyee.

After teaching art at Madison Junior High and...

Robert Keyes "R.K." Smith, 90, died Friday evening July 28, 2017, at Fieldstone Memory Care from the effects of Alzheimer's Disease. He was born on June 8, 1927, in Spokane, WA, second son of Lillian Marea Palmquist and Edgar Eugene Smith. R.K. grew up in Seattle where he graduated from Roosevelt High School and then earned Bachelor and Master Degrees in Art and Education from the University of Washington. He was a member of Delta Upsilon Fraternity, a member of the UW Alumni Club and Tyee.

After teaching art at Madison Junior High and Sealth High Schools in Seattle, R.K. came to Yakima in 1960 where he taught art, headed the Art Department, and was Director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College, bringing innovations and improvements to all facets of his job. He was an exceptional painting, drawing, and art appreciation teacher, but also a talented artist, painting in acrylics, watercolor, oils and mixed media. He exhibited and sold paintings all over Washington state. He was included in the Central WA Artists Archive Project Oral History, copyright 2012, produced by Larson Gallery. He was active in the community in Central Labor and the Democratic Party, as well as in any civil rights and progressive issues.

When R.K. was in Seattle he was an active member of the Seattle and Washington State Federation of Teachers AFL-CIO. When he came to Yakima he continued his passion for support of working men and women and founded the Yakima Valley College Federation of Teachers Local 1485 in 1963. It became the bargaining unit for the teachers at the college. He also served as President of the Washington State Federation of Teachers and later was given a lifetime achievement and service award by his Local.

R.K. was a diehard Husky sports fan, especially football. He and Kay had season tickets to football games for many years and they traveled to California for Rose Bowl games at least five times. It was as much fun (or frustrating!) to watch and listen to R.K. watch games as it was to watch the game itself!

When he came to Yakima in 1960 he met Kay Hoffman at college and art events. They were married in February 1962, celebrating 55 years of "wedded bliss" (as he always said) this year. They have two children, Brett of Yakima and Reneé (David) Rooney of Camano Island, WA.

After retiring from the college in 1983 R.K. continued painting, exhibiting, and selling his and Kay's paintings. They also enjoyed trips around the United States and especially to Oregon and Washington beaches, to Europe, Canada, Russia, Northern Africa and Hawaii. R.K. was a constant reader of history and political books and periodicals, and he liked to clip out and pass around pertinent newspaper articles to anyone who would accept them. He enjoyed playing golf in a foursome with his three special buddies, and worked hard to improve his game. His humor, grace, kindness and argumentative style will be greatly missed.

He was preceded in death by his parents and brother John Dimmitt Smith and his wife B.J. He is survived by his devoted wife, his children, a sister-in-law, Mary Lou Higgins, a brother-in-law, Jim Benoit, many nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.

Many thanks to the staffs at Fieldstone Memory Care and Heartlinks Hospice, and to Dr. Kakkar, nurse Julie and Dr. Lee for their exceptional and compassionate care of R.K., and their kindness to Kay.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the University of Washington School of Art, Alzheimer's Disease Research or charity of your choice.

A celebration of his life will be held later this month.

Please visit www.keithandkeith.com to leave a remembrance.