Michael Ray Keys

Published 11:33 am Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Memorial services were held Saturday, July 3, 2021, at Ruby K. Johnson Chapel in Prentiss, for Mr. Michael Ray Keys, 61, who died Tuesday, June 21, 2021, at his residence. Rev. Vicky Hill officiated with interment to follow in the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Johnson Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

Michael Ray Keys was born on June 27, 1959, in Prentiss, to Leroy Keys and Ora Nell Johnson. He married Chong Hwan Kim in February 1983 in Killeen, Texas. They are the parents of Natalie I. (Keys) Weathers. Michael and Glenda Snell are the parents of Angela L. Snell. Michael married Cynthia J. Wilson in August 1990, in Waynesville, Missouri. They are the parents of Jared A., Michael R. II, and Olivia J. Keys.

Michael attended public schools in Prentiss and graduated from Prentiss High School in 1977. He enlisted in the U. S. Army on May 31, 1977, with a first duty station in Seoul, Korea. He served stateside in Texas and Fort Lee and Fort Story, Virginia. In Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he was a drill instructor, crane operator, and construction equipment supervisor. He was stationed in Grafenwöhr, Germany, then reassigned to Fort Leonard Wood, where he retired as Sergeant First Class with the Wolverine 577 Engineer Battalion on July 31, 1997. While stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas, in 1985, he received an Associate Degree in Applied Science from Central Texas College in Killeen, for Battalion Army Training and Evaluation Program and Mechanical Maintenance Training Management courses, with special emphasis on Construction Project Inspection, Quality Control, and Brigade Command. His evaluation commendations included “Integrity beyond reproach, respect for all soldiers, and fully committed to organization controls.”

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His military education included Forklift and Loader Operator training in 1977, Noncommissioned Officer Leadership in 1980 and 1986, Leadership Development in 1984, Nuclear Biological Chemical Defense School in 1985, Master Fitness Training in 1987, Drill Sergeant School in 1988, Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course in 1991, and Headstart Training in 1993.

Michael Ray Keys was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation, Achievement and Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer’s Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service and Overseas Service Ribbons, Expert Marksmanship Badges with Rifle Bar and Grenade Bar, and Drill Sergeant Badge. After retiring from the Army, he moved to Sumrall, where he embarked on his second career with the U. S. Post Office in Hattiesburg.

Michael was preceded in death by his father Leroy Keys on Oct. 4, 2019; his daughter, Olivia J. Keys, on April 9, 2016 and his brother, Kendrick Keys, on May 23, 2008.

He is survived by his daughter, Natalie Weathers, grandchildren Tayvius and Nataya Weathers of Palm Bay, Florida; daughter, Angela L. Snell of New Orleans, Louisiana; sons Jared A. and Michael R. II Keys, of Hattiesburg; his mother Ora N. Keys, of Prentiss; brothers, Gregory Keyes of Petal, and Travis Keys, of Hattiesburg; sister, Myra Keys of Jackson; former spouses, Kim Bock of Massachusetts and Cynthia J. Marsh of Laurel and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.