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Obituary of Steven "Keith" Long
Keith passed away unexpectedly on June 5, 2023, at his home in Olympia, Washington, at the age of 75. He was born May 5, 1948, in Brinkley, Arkansas, and relocated to Yuma, Arizona, as a small child where he was raised. Keith graduated from Kofa High School in 1966 and enjoyed lifelong close friendships with many of his fellow students.
During the Vietnam War, Keith was drafted into the U.S. Army immediately after graduating from college. He had good memories of his two years in the Army. He became friends with his commanding officer and ended up serving at Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis McChord) in Washington and the rest of his time in Germany. He had fond memories of driving throughout the German countryside, visiting hofbrau houses and eating delicious German food.
After earning his master’s degree in social work from Arizona State University, he moved to the state of Washington—a place he fell in love with during his time in the Army. As a psychiatric social worker, Keith supervised the treatment of juvenile offenders and worked with criminally disturbed patients.
Keith began working in budget in 1984 at the Department of Social and Health Services and then was promoted to the position of budget assistant to the Governor of Washington in 1986. Keith was highly regarded as a budget officer—a straight shooter. Any agency could rely on his word.
For more than 30 years, Keith owned and operated Long’s Agricultural Services, providing services to his loyal customers throughout Thurston County. He sincerely enjoyed seeing and talking to his customers as much or more than doing the work!
Keith’s private life was always full of projects and activities. He loved to take walks or drive to a friend’s house to help with a project or just visit. He took pleasure in brightening someone’s day with his presence, sense of humor and sincere interest in their lives. If there was a problem to be solved, he was always there to help.
Keith loved people. He loved to tell a good story or tease someone. He had a passion for any type of motorized vehicle, reading, gardening, ponds and koi, greenhouses, animals, music, and movies. He also had on his bucket list the creation of an oasis of trees and vegetation in the Arizona off-the-grid desert. He bought a little more than six acres of land there in 2017 and called it Coots’ Roost. He spent about six months every year since then drilling a well, installing solar power, and planting hundreds of trees and other types of plants, including cactus.
Reading was a favorite pastime for Keith—especially when the weather precluded outdoor activities. He took particular pleasure in getting young people interested in reading by taking them to a library or bookstore to pick out books that interested them. Keith valued a good read and would ensure it subsequently got into the hands of someone who also would enjoy it.
Keith’s pursuit of gardening was relentless and infectious. He truly had a green thumb, taking pleasure in sharing the fruits of his vegetable garden and trees he had grown from seed. His passion for gardening eventually expanded to include the building and nurturing of ponds and koi. He loved to do research on any gardening topic, consult with experts, and then share that knowledge with others.
Animals loved Keith and that feeling was mutual. Over the years, he had emus, goats, llamas, donkeys, alpacas, Guineafowls, chickens, cats and dogs. He was proud of raising his two emus from eggs that had been given to him and rescuing many of the animals he brought home.
Keith loved Foxhall—the people, geography, the trail system and parks. He valued the quality of life and diverse, friendly people who chose to live here. He felt the community was one of the best anywhere.
At the end of the day, Keith’s biggest contribution to the world was his ability to work effectively with young people. Over the years, he provided many teenagers their first jobs. Because his business involved operating and maintaining farm equipment, this provided a great learning opportunity. Keith believed that a job worth doing had to be done well. He took great pride in developing relationships that enabled open and honest communication. Almost all of the teenagers Keith worked with have remained friends, which Keith valued more than life itself. He was so proud of each of them.
Keith was married to Carol J. Schaffner Long for 20 years (1976 to 1996) and Linda Sheler Long for 26 years (1997 to 2023). Keith and Carol were blessed with two children, Kristen and Kyle.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Pharine Nissen and Melburn Long, Yuma Arizona; his brothers, Chris and Kevin, Yuma, Arizona; daughter, Kristen, Olympia, Washington; mother-in-law, Virginia Strait, Albany, Oregon; and brother-in-law, David Bender, Tangent, Oregon.
Keith is survived by his loving wife Linda; his son, Kyle; his sister, Malise Squires (Alan), Henderson, Nevada; sister-in-law, Judy Bender, Lebanon, Oregon; brother-in-law, Jim Dannals, Ocean Park, Washington; as well as nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Words cannot express the profound effect we feel at the loss of such a kind, gentle and loving husband and dad. He was deeply loved and admired and will be greatly missed.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Foxhall Community Association Picnic Shelter Project, 700 Sleater-Kinney Road SE, Suite B218, Lacey, WA 98503; Concern for Animals, 1414 State Avenue NE, Olympia, WA 98506; or your favorite charity.
A celebration of life for Keith will be held Saturday, July 15, 2023, 10:00 a.m. at 4924 Foxhall Drive NE, Olympia, WA 98516. Dress is casual. In Keith’s honor, lunch will be Mexican food, his favorite.
The family requests that you share your favorite Keith stories or reflect on what he meant to you. If you feel uncomfortable sharing things in person, you can provide the information to Linda Long at email@example.com.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller
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