Wapato native who survived Pearl Harbor dies at 92

Wapato native who survived Pearl Harbor dies at 92

A Wapato native and one of the last known survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor has died.

Spurgeon Keeth passed away on Dec. 28 at the age of 92. The World War II veteran lived most of his life in Wapato.

The Daily Astorian reports he joined the Army in 1941 at age 16 and was stationed at the Schofield Barracks in Honolulu. He was on kitchen duty during the attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

His daughter Donna said Keeth didn’t talk about the attack much apart from the fact that he watched several friends get killed.

He went on to fight other battles in the Pacific during his service.

In a 1944 interview with the Yakima Herald, he said he was shot at from a few feet away and the enemy missed. He described the shell explosions going off nearby during a 19-day siege.

When the war was over, he moved back to the Yakima Valley where he had four kids and nine grandkids. Much of his family remains there.

He learned how to be a mechanic at the Perry Trade School, specializing in bodies and fenders. He spent 30 years working as a foreman at an auto shop that worked on vehicles for the federal Wapato Irrigaton District.

In retirement, he liked to volunteer at local parks and drove buses for the school district and fruit farmers.

He didn’t join any veteran groups in Washington and mostly lived a private life, his daughter said.

In 2015, Keeth moved to the coastal town of Hammond, Ore. to stay with his daughter after breaking his hip. Word spread that he was a Pearl Harbor survivor and before long, he became a local celebrity. His daughter said some grown men would cry after meeting him because he reminded them of someone in their family.

His memorial service will be on Saturday at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Oregon. His remains are being kept in Wapato.