Gary George Keith



Gary George Keith, 80, of Wallace left this earthly life for his eternal rest on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

Gary or “Coach" as many of his family, former players and students knew him, was born in Everett, Washington on August 16, 1937. He was the son of the late LCDR Edward "Ted" Keith USN (ret), a veteran of WWII, and Marjorie Keith a life-long educator. He was also predeceased by his older brother Gene.

Gary proudly served in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1962 serving tours in Vietnam and Korea.

After leaving the Army, he later (1964) met and married Elizabeth Anne Joyner of Norfolk VA, a recent divorcee with two sons, Al Keith (later adopted by Gary) and Ray Mattes. Soon after getting married, Gary and Elizabeth or “Nan” as she was affectionately called, left for California where Gary finished his Bachelor's degree at Cal State Hayward. They then moved back to Kittrell, NC in 1965 where Elizabeth gave birth to their daughter, Anne Moore Keith. Both Gary and Nan taught at Zeb Vance School in Kittrell with Gary coaching boy's basketball. In 1967 the family moved to Chapel Hill where Gary taught Science and Math, and coached basketball while Elizabeth finished her undergraduate degree at UNC Chapel Hill. After Nan graduated, they moved to Southern California. Gary and Nan continued teaching at various schools in Riverside and San Bernardino counties and “Coach” continued coaching basketball. In 1977 they moved to San Marcos, CA in San Diego County where Nan continued teaching vocal music and Gary continued coaching both boy's and girl's basketball, winning a regional championship in girl's basketball in 1982. In 1984 Gary and Nan, whose children were now all adults, took sabbaticals to teach for a year in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, and yes, Gary started a boy's basketball team on Saipan too! After Saipan, the two were selected to attend a teaching exchange to the UK for a year. After returning to the US, they taught for a few more years and retired from teaching in California in 1988. Seeing that most of their adult children were settling on the east coast, Gary and Nan moved back to NC. They taught in Onslow County and Yancey County before retiring from their teaching careers. Elizabeth died in 2001 after 36 years of marriage. After a few years Gary visited Vietnam where he met and married Tu Truong in 2003. The circumstances of their meeting are remarkable in that Gary, while touring Vietnam alone, happened upon a work party erecting a roof for a wedding when the roof collapsed and trapped several of the work party. Gary crawled up under the collapsed roof and lifted it enough to allow the workmen to escape. Among the work party was the bride groom! To demonstrate their gratitude for his help, the wedding party invited Gary to the wedding, whereupon he met his future bride, Tu Truong. Upon returning to the US, Gary and Tu established two nail salons in both Kenansville and Wallace NC. When a family friend of Tu's immigrated to the US from Vietnam, with her son, but without the son's father, Gary and Tu helped her to immigrate here,took her and her infant son into their home and adopted him; just another example of his remarkable compassion.

"Coach" Gary G. Keith is survived by his wife Tu Keith, sons Algernon Joyner Keith and Raymond John Mattes III; daughter Anne Moore Talovich; sister Laura Gail Liljestrand; brother Gill Keith; grandsons Raymond John Mattes IV and Ryan Lee Mattes; great granddaughter Risdon Mattes and great grandson Sanders Mattes and numerous extended family and friends who loved “Coach” dearly. “Coach” will be remembered as a conscientious teacher, skilled coach and mentor, and loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 6:00pm on Friday, April 6, 2018 at Quinn-McGowen Funeral Home Wallace Chapel with Father Rock officiating.

The family will receive friends from 5:00pm to 6:00pm, one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.

There will be a graveside service held 12:00 Noon on Friday, April 13, 2018 at Coastal Carolina Veteran's Cemetery, 110 Montford Point Road, Jacksonville, Onslow County, North Carolina, 28540.

In lieu of flowers the family request that memorial gifts be sent to Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, 3152 Little Road, Suite 146, Trinity, Florida 34655 or donate online at

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Quinn-McGowen Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Wallace, NC 910-285-4005