James A. Keys died in his home in Falls Church on August 18, 2008 from hepatocellular carcinoma, a rare liver cancer.
Born on April 5, 1920 in Bristow, Va., Keys left Manassas High School in 1939 to join the Civilian Conservation Corps, where he served from 1939 – 1941 as an assistant leader and medic at the 351st Camp Sherando in Lyndhurst, Va. After a brief stint as an electrical helper, Keys joined the U.S. Army 27th Division 105th Infantry Company E & I, acting as a staff sergeant from 1941 – 1948. Keys was a distinguished soldier, earning a Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart, two bronze stars and several battle stars. Following his service, he also became a member of the Purple Heart & Disabled Veterans association.
For almost 30 years, Keys worked for the General Service Administration in the Pentagon, leaving in 1972 to start his own painting business, Keys Contracting, which he ran until retiring due to medical concerns in 2003.
In 1956, he married Dorothea Mea Keys (née Wright). They remained together until her death in 1992.
Keys is survived by his sister, Carolyn Keys; children, Katherine C. Keys, James A. Keys, Jr., Kevin Keys, Christopher D. Keys; ten grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
He was buried Wednesday, September at Arlington National Cemetery.