Earl D. Keithley Sr. | PostIndependent.com

Earl D. Keithley Sr.

Earl D. Keithley Sr. of Silt died Monday, Jan. 12, 2004, when God sent his angels to escort him to his heavenly family. He was 104.

Visitation will be from 1-5 p.m. today at the Rifle Funeral Home, 1400 Access Road in Rifle.

A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 16, at the First Baptist Church of Garfield County, 632 Grand Ave. in Silt, with the Rev. James Legg officiating. Burial will follow at Rose Hill Cemetery in Rifle.

Mr. Keithley was born April 17, 1899, in Branson, Taney County, Mo., to William Franklin Keithley and Mary Lunda Stockstill. In 1901, the family moved to Colorado, making the trip in 32 days by covered wagon. They returned to Missouri the following year, and then came back to Colorado in 1907. The second time, they traveled by train to Sugar City and by stagecoach to Manzanola.

Mr. Keithley attended school in Manzanola through sixth grade, then quit to work in the sugar beet fields. It wasn’t long before he began acting as a contractor and providing field labor to local farmers.

He met and courted Wilma L. Stevens in the fall of 1919, and they were married March 31, 1920, in La Junta. They had four children, and were married 75 years at the time of her death in 1995.

The couple moved their young family to the Western Slope in 1925. They farmed in the Silt and Antlers area and finally settled on a river ranch south of Silt in 1948, where they lived until Interstate 70 was built. Then they moved to Silt, where Mr. Keithley lived until recently.

In addition to farming and ranching, Mr. Keithley worked on the Garfield County road crew.

He was a member of the American Quarter Horse Association and the National Rifle Association.

Until Mr. Keithley reached his 90s, he enjoyed hunting and fishing with family and friends, especially his grandsons.

His special passion was horses. He raised and raced thoroughbreds and quarter horses for many years.

As he had loved farming, he also enjoyed gardening in his retirement years.

Mr. Keithley accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior and shared his faith throughout his life. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Garfield County in Silt.

His deep faith in God carried him through the most difficult of times. His positive attitude, zeal for life and perhaps a little stubbornness saw him through 104 years. His family will miss his wisdom, love, kindness and that special twinkle in his eyes.

He was preceded in death by his parents; by his wife, Wilma Keithley; by brothers Theodore and Charles Keithley; by sisters Vannie Klausner, Bessie McNeely and a twin sister, Easter Julius Lein; by a son, Elton Keithley; and by a daughter, Mildred Keithley.

Mr. Keithley is survived by sons Earl “Sonny” Keithley Jr. of Rifle, and Dale Keithley of Marion, Mont.; by grandchildren Dee Keithley, Danny Keithley, David Keithley and Toni Lu DeCino Mullenaux, all of Rifle, R.D. Keithley of Marion, Mont., Dick Keithley of Parachute, Micki Keithley Daley of Fruita, Suzanne DeCino of Eagle River, Alaska, Don Keithley of St. Cloud, Fla., and JoRetta Keithley Watson of Salt Lake City; by step-granddaughter Joyce “Tootie” Terry of Rifle; by a sister-in-law, Mary Lou Keithley of Fowler; by 26 great-grandchildren, two step-great-grandchildren, 14 great-great-grandchildren; and a host of loving and caring nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.

Memorial contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church of Garfield County or to a charity of choice.

Rifle Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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