William Key passed away at home in Livingston on October 20, 2021. He was born in Eloy, Arizona on December 18, 1937 to Mamie and Mac Key. He moved to Visalia, California in the 6th grade and graduated from Mt. Whitney High (1955), College of the Sequoias (COS), and Sacramento State College earning a Master’s degree.
Bill married his high school sweetheart Bonnie Thompson after they graduated from college in 1961, They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past August. Bill started teaching in1962 and during his career he taught at both Merced and Livingston High Schools. He also coached football, basketball, and baseball and served as a school counselor and athletic director. One of his proud achievements was winning the league baseball championship at Livingston High in 1967. From 1968 to 1970 Bill taught and coached baseball at the University of California Riverside and assisted with the golf team.
Sports was at the core of Bill’s life. He was a good athlete, a jogger, and a physical fitness advocate who worked out daily until the end of this life. He was a great baseball player. When he was 15, he was on the Visalia Babe Ruth team that went back to Trenton N.J. and took 3rd in the nation. At COS his baseball team won the state 1957 state championship and the team was inducted into the COS Hall of Fame. He enjoyed a summer playing baseball in Canada.
When his baseball career was over, he started playing golf. His passion for sports and drive to achieve his personal best led him to spend hours practicing at home and on the golf course. He became an outstanding golfer, won the Turlock Country Club Championship for 3 consecutive years. During his long golf career, he shot 19 holes in one! Bill wrote and published a book about golf called “Short Game Keys” and was in the process of writing another book when he passed.
He and Bonnie traveled to rodeos including Calgary, Cheyene, Reno, National Finals. They enjoyed going to baseball spring training in Arizona – golf in the morning, baseball in the afternoon. They also attended many country western concerts.
He is preceded in death by his parents and his daughter JoAnn Key McMurtry. He is survived by his wife Bonnie, son and wife Robert and Melissa Key, and his sister Brenda Miller.
There will be a Celebration of Life on Saturday, November 13, at 11:00 at the Livingston VFW Hall 1605 7th Street. In lieu of flowers Memorial donations can be made to: the Bill Elam Athletic Fund, Livingston High, 1617 Main Street, Livingston, Ca 95334; or to Hinds Hospice, 410 W. Main Street Suite A, Merced, Ca 95340.
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