If anyone has merited being called a “take-charge individual,” that person rightly would be W.R. Keyser. W.R. was born with a knack for being able to see solutions to whatever matters have come his way.
He was raised on a farm at Mila, where his parents taught him and his brothers and sisters the values of good country living, growing abundant and healthful fruits and vegetables, husbanding productive animals, and catching the bounty offered by the water. Their Victorian homestead remains today one of the landmarks of the area.
During his military service he married his first wife, Patsy, with whom he returned to the Northern Neck to raise their family of nine children, passing on to them the good practices they learned from their own parents. Their family constituted a large percentage of the population of Weems, where all of the children were taught the work ethic.
For many years W.R. was the Sears technician who kept everyone’s machinery in good working order. After that period, he opened his own company, W.R. Keyser, Ltd., on West Church Street in Kilmarnock. The small store became a center of local social life, as customers came to know each other through W.R.
Nothing was too much trouble for W.R., a spirit that he imbued in his sons, who worked with him, as well as in the company’s other employees. W.R. was known for being able to fix anything, and his service always was impeccable. He demanded nothing less than perfection from himself and from those who worked with him.
Patsy died in 1993, and W.R. remarried the following year. He and his bride, RayLee, lived in Ditchley where W.R. spent some of his free time caring for a neighbor’s horse, Breeze, and her companion goat. Breeze and W.R. had great rapport, Breeze always rushing to see him, obviously hoping for some sort of a treat, but nevertheless faithfully responding to his friendship. The goat was not as obliging.
RayLee put together a wonderful account of W.R.’s many activities, interests, and most of all, his thoughts on the passing scene. She entitled the book, The Life and Times of W.R. Keyser. It is a must-read for those interested in this area, as it is far more than a mere biographical sketch. As with W.R., RayLee was a take-charge individual, who gently and quietly knew how to get things done. Following her death last year, W.R. moved to Kilmarnock where he now lives in proximity to his sister, Iris Garrison.
At church, W.R. served for decades as an usher, doing far more than merely passing the basket. He organized the ushering process and encouraged others to join in supporting the congregation’s mission. He especially liked putting programs together, all the while eschewing taking credit for himself.
W.R. is a direct person, one who likes to set goals and see them fulfilled. He does not like to pussyfoot or obstruct. Once when the pastor was preaching for what W.R. considered a bit too long, he stood in the back of the church, raised his left arm to show his wristwatch, and pointed to it with his right hand. The sermon concluded shortly thereafter.
In addition to the wealth of knowledge he has accumulated over his lifetime, W.R. also has a talent for political commentary. He is not known for reticence in discussing his viewpoints, liking to engage his friends in sharing his opinions.
This coming Monday, W.R. will become a nonagenarian. As RayLee correctly observed in her biography, he has led an impressive life, contributing to the enhancement of the world around him, and making a lot of folks chuckle along the way.
Happy Birthday, W.R.! “Ad multos annos!”