Keith Simmons Myott with family, friends and music from the Grateful Dead passed away on Oct. 31, 2014.
Keith had been in Seattle at the University of Washington Medical Center waiting for a bilateral lung transplant for 11 months. He got that transplant on Sept. 10, 2014, but it proved to not be the miracle that would extend his life.
Keith grew up a very active child. Born in Newark Valley, New York, on June 22, 1963, his parents, Walt and Helen, gave him many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Walt taught him to hunt and trap. Helen would ferry Keith to the local ski area. This was the start of love for skiing, that he pursued as long as his health allowed. No one loved skiing the “POW” more than Keith.
His brother, Bill, and Walt started Keith fly fishing at a young age. The hook was cast and set.
The family took several journeys to Montana for fly fishing. This is where Keith met his longtime friends, Paul and Bev Rice. It was a friendship that allowed for more skiing, fishing and outdoor adventures. It is also where Keith decided that he wanted to make Montana his home.
Back at school, Keith was not sure which direction he wanted to go. He spent two years at Paul Smith’s, a small school in upstate New York. He and his friends seemed to major more in the Grateful Dead than their studies. He went on to Syracuse University for a few years then ended up at Albany College of Pharmacy, where he decided to become a pharmacist. He graduated from Albany and at last moved to Montana to begin the life he had only dreamed.
When asked what achievements he was proud of, Keith replied, “becoming an Eagle Scout, graduating pharmacy school, moving to Montana, marrying my wife, Cathy, and living to 50.”
Keith had a 20-year career at the Fort Harrison VA Hospital. There he made friends who would accompany him on many of his adventures, some more successful than others.
Keith retired in the fall of 2012 because of poor health from his many years of battling cystic fibrosis. One of Keith’s doctors wrote, “He knew how to live life better than anyone I’ve ever known. I frequently use him as an example for my younger CF patients when they tell me what they won’t be able to accomplish.”
Keith had an infectious laugh, big smile and a zest for life comparable to no one. He had a knack for coming up with one-liners that could fill a book. He never let his disease define him. He always turned a new page. When he could no longer do one thing he found something else. Several years ago he joined the Helena Valley Gun Dog Club and spent many hours with friends, training his dogs, Chopper and Telkwa. And he never stopped fishing.
He is survived by family and friends who miss him dearly and have fond memories of many good times together.
I would like to thank everyone who helped support us, your thoughtfulness and kindness will not be forgotten.
Here’s to you mister, together again with your best friends and fishing buddies Walt and Bill.