Ivan “Ike” Keve

August 29, 1921 —  May 31, 2019

Ivan “Ike” Keve, at the age of 97 years 9 months and 2 days, passed away peacefully on May 31, 2019, at his home in Waitsburg.  He was born on August 29, 1921, on 7th Street in Waitsburg, to Jake and Marie Keve.  

Ike attended Waitsburg schools, graduating in 1939. After graduation, he attended Walla Walla Business College and in 1941 was appointed clerk at the Waitsburg Post Office.  

As a member of the “Greatest Generation”, he proudly served in WWII entering military service in 1944.  He served overseas in Central Europe with the 288th FA Observation Battalion attached to the Third Army, reaching the rank of Tech 4 Sergeant.  He was honorably discharged in 1946, returning home to his previous job at the Post Office. He was appointed Postmaster in 1957, and retired in 1982 after 41 years of postal service.  While he was Postmaster, on Christmas morning he would go to the post office to make sure everyone in Waitsburg had received their late arriving packages.

Ike was married to Margaret Hullinger for 17 years and they had two children, son John Kenneth (JK) and daughter, Jani.  He provided a consistent, comfortable, stable home for his two kids, and selflessly made sure they were always well cared for.  Ike never missed a local or out-of-town school activity that his kids were involved in, and enjoyed attending Waitsburg school activities well into his 90s.

He married Bessie Ann James in 1984 where they enjoyed a life serving together in many community activities.  Ivan felt strongly about community service and he spent his entire adult life volunteering for his beloved home town of Waitsburg.  Ike served as Secretary and Treasurer for the Commercial Club for over 40 years.  He served as Treasurer and Committeeman for Boy Scout Troop #336 for many years.  For 73 years, he held numerous offices in the American Legion Post #35, the Veterans Relief Advisory Committee, and enjoyed volunteering yearly at the VA Christmas gift shop. He was instrumental in cataloging all of the veteran grave markers in both of the Waitsburg cemeteries and was also involved in the Waitsburg Veterans Memorial Wall. Later in life, he took great satisfaction that he could still fit into his WWII uniform and wore it proudly to special events.  He was awarded the Waitsburg Community Service Award in 1979 for working many years on the parade committee and in the racing betting booth for the Days of Real Sports.  In 2008, he was selected Parade Marshal, an honor he shared with his father who was Parade Marshal in 1972.  He and his wife Bessie Ann were honored as Pioneers of the Year in 2004.  In 2017, he was awarded the Karen Huwe Alumni Service Award. Ike was also a member of the St. Mark’s Catholic Church.

Ike was an avid fisherman and spent a lifetime fishing along the Touchet Rivers and Coppei Creek, and in his later years, at Jubilee, Wallowa and Tucannon lakes with family and friends.  He also cherished his memories and stories of a lifelong family tradition of deer and elk hunting in the Blue Mountains and especially on Jasper Mountain where his grandparents homesteaded in 1889.  His family stories of successful hunts and other humorous events will be sorely missed around the campfire. Through these stories, past generations of Keve’s were not forgotten as they came to life again for next generation to get a sense of who they were.  He actively hunted elk on the Keve homestead on Jasper Mountain at the age of 92 and then elk “camped” with son JK and nephew Jake Long until the age of 95.

Since 1948, the appearance of his yard and home on “Keve Korner” was important to him and was also a great source of pride and joy especially when community members told him how nice it looked. He really loved working in his yard and garden, and especially relaxing on his back porch.

He is survived by his loving wife, Bessie Ann; son, JK (Terry) Keve; daughter, Jani (Joe) Jansen; and four grandchildren: Kelly (Chris) Knapp, Traci (Jack) Tortorici, Emily (Jonathan) Clare, Jon Jansen; and eight great-grandchildren; and special nephew, Jake (Michele) Long. Bessie Ann’s family, Mark (Linda) James, Randy (Terri) James, Laurie (Ron) Melechia; seven grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Andrew; and sister Juanita Long.

Military and internment services will be held at the Waitsburg Cemetery, Saturday, June 8, 2019, at 10 a.m. for family and friends followed by a memorial service and reception starting at 11 a.m. at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Waitsburg.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Waitsburg High School Alumni Association Scholarship fund or to your favorite charity.

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