Obituary: Merton Irwin Keith


Local musician Merton Keith was embraced by the loving arms of Jesus and his beautiful wife Nancy on March 8, 2020, at 6 p.m. His welcoming smile and loving spirit was a gift to all who knew him.

Merton was born May 28, 1932, in Leming, Texas to Thomas and Fredonia Keith.

He never met a stranger and was one of the most photographed persons in Stone County. Played music at the Ozark Folk Center with his family and on the court square for decades. Playing music with his family and friends was an important part of his life. He loved participating in local festivals playing music and making jewelry, and you could always find him on pretty days surrounded by friends and family on the square in Mountain View. He played rhythm guitar and his stomping feet and joyful holler were his trademarks.

He is survived by seven children: Merton D. Keith of Cocoa, FL, Fredonia Currie of Heber Springs, Cher Nicholson of Floral, Londa Keith of Fayetteville, Gina Keith of Jonesboro, Nicholas Keith of Conway, and Amber Keith of Texarkana, TX, as well as many, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; his beloved wife, Nancy May Keith; brothers Earl and Ralph Keith; sisters June Cheser and Marion Halloway.

Visitation will be held Friday 6 p.m. -8 p.m. at Willis-Hayes Funeral Home in Batesville.

Funeral service will be Saturday at 2 p.m. at the funeral home, followed by graveside service and burial at Pine Grove Cemetery in Floral.

A reception with music will follow at Pleasant Plains Community Center. Come as you are, bring your guitar. As Merton would say, “Come as you are. Them’s the words with the bark on it.”

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