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Nanette M. Keith

Nanette Maude Keith, a longtime Claremont resident, died on March 24, 2016. She was 89.

She was born on January 9, 1927 in Chicago to John Peter and Pauline Cheske Hardesty and moved to South Gate, California at age 17 to finish her senior year of high school. In September 1945, Nan enrolled at UCLA where she earned her bachelor’s degree. While in college she met her husband Robert Allen Keith, who earned his PhD in clinical psychology and taught for many years at the Claremont Graduate School. In 1953, the couple moved to Claremont where they raised their two daughters. 

A lifelong volunteer, she spent many hours working on her children’s school activities as well as in support of fundraising for Casa Colina Hospital where Dr. Keith worked for several decades as the director of research. They traveled extensively throughout their lives, taking annual trips to visit their oldest daughter and her husband at their home in Switzerland. Both avid photographers, they documented their many journeys including trips to China, Costa Rica and Canada and many stays in Europe, including stops in Paris, Italy and Ireland. They spent 1967-68 living abroad in London while Dr. Keith was on sabbatical at the University of London. 

In 1976, the year her youngest daughter went off to college, Mrs. Keith became a realtor with Coldwell Banker where she worked for the next 20 years. She represented many Claremont friends and colleagues in the purchase and sale of homes, and enjoyed lots of great times with her fellow real estate agents. She retired from real estate after helping her youngest daughter with the sale of her home in 1996.

Following Bob’s passing in 2006, Mrs. Keith “put the pedal to the metal” and joined a Shakespeare group, continued to volunteer at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, enjoyed hundreds of plays with close friends, delivered Meals on Wheels and lived on her own in her home in Claremont. The annual trip with the Shakespeare group to Ashland, Oregon was a highlight of every year, and Nan always got special treatment from the actors who got to know her on a first-name basis. She remained active, traveling with her family to Europe at age 84 and attending her grandson’s graduation from college in Chicago the following year.   

Nan loved sports. She grew up not far from Wrigley Field, cheering for the Chicago Cubs, but ultimately it was the love of basketball that came first. She rooted for the Lakers during the glory days but became a Clipper fan because, as she said, they were just more fun to watch. She was also a diehard Democrat and wore her Obama T-shirt proudly when he was elected president in 2008.

She was known as the life of any party, and spent many hours connecting both in person and on the computer with a wide group of friends, family and colleagues. Her network received many fun emails from her over the years, as she remembered birthdays, anniversaries and many other milestones in their lives.

Mrs. Keith often described how lucky she was to have so many good friends and neighbors who looked out for her later in life, and with whom she enjoyed so many good times. Those who knew her, however, insist that luck had nothing to do with it. “Nan received what she put out into the world: openness and kindness,” family shared. “She was often described as the most optimistic and positive person you would ever meet—a force of nature and a ray of sunshine who would light up the room.” 

She is survived by her two daughters, Leslie Keith Berclaz of Switzerland and Claudia Keith Lorenzana of northern California, and their spouses Leopold Berclaz and David Lorenzana, as well as her grandson Pablo Keith Lorenzana of Chicago. 

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, May 8 at noon in the Container Garden at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, 1500 N. College Ave., Claremont. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to RSABG in memory of Nanette Keith.

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