Warden Franklin Keas
"Waldo the Clown"
April 11, 1924 - Dec 2, 2008
"He's had his last walk around"
Warden "Ward" Franklin Keas, known for his heartwarming antics as a clown as well as his artistic carving of toothpick flowers, passed away in Torrance, on December 2, 2008. Always a battler, he defeated cancer, recovered from open-heart surgery and rehabilitated from hip surgery. He succumbed to kidney failure after a valiant fight.
Born to the late Chester and Laura Keas, Ward's life took him from a childhood in tiny Stockton, Kansas to Louisiana, onto Europe and back to his native Kansas before settling in Southern California. Drafted by the Army in 1942, he left Kansas State to serve his country at Camp Polk in the Bayou as an MP. Following the war, he was chosen for the special assignment of bringing German prisoners back to Europe, owing to his fluency in their native language.
Upon return from Europe, he went back to Kansas State and earned a degree in Electrical Design Engineering. After graduation, North American Aviation recruited him and he took a position with the company in Inglewood and spent the next 37 years with the company, taking time on the way to earn a Masters from UCLA in engineering in 1953. Ward finally settled in Torrance in 1955.
As accomplished as Ward was in engineering, it was his hobbies that became his trademark in the community. Having attended clown school, he took time to go to Clown College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. From there he brought laughter and good times to schools and retirement homes. He won many awards at clown conventions across the country and was honored at the International Clown Convention.
He was also known for the unusual hobby of toothpick carving, which he turned into an art. His work of turning toothpicks into blossoming flowers was featured in the Daily Breeze. Besides clowning and whittling, he was also a noted rock hound and enjoyed ceramics as well. Ward was also an accomplished dancer and enjoyed square and round dancing. He belonged to the North American Rock and Mineral Club, Alondra Wood Carvers, National Wood Carvers, Clowns of America, World Clown Association, Western Regional Clown Association, AsqD, Top Notchers of Hermosa Beach, Boots & Bows Square Dance Club, Mill A Rounds Redondo Beach, and many other dance clubs, the Sons of Norway and the America Legion.
He is survived by wife, Shirley; son, Michael Keas of Mountain Home, Idaho; step-daughter Tracy Margeson of Haltom City, Texas; step-sons, Kevin (Monica) Anderson of Arroyo Grande, CA, Cameron (Karina) Anderson of Spokane, Washington; grandson, Jason (Barbara) Keas of Mountain Home, Idaho; step-grandson's Eric (Caretha) Lau of Dixon, CA, Matthew Lau of Flagstaff, Stephen Lau of Torrance, CA; step-grand daughters, Lisa Lau of Torrance, CA, Meghan and Kylie Anderson of Arroyo Grande, CA, Elsa Brianna and Nicole Anderson of Spokane, Washington; 3 great grand children and 7 others who call Ward- Grandpa or PaPa. Ward is also survived by his brother, Wilbur Keas of Gillette, Wyoming and his sisters, Twila (Freeman) Sander of Stockton Kansas, Clio (Delbert) Carson of Gillette, Wyoming; and finally many nieces and nephews.
Viewing will be held on Sunday, December 7, 2008, from 6:00pm - 8:00pm, at Rice Mortuary, 5310 Torrance Blvd, Torrance, CA.
Memorial Service will be held on Monday, December 8, 2008, at 10:00 am, at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 21100 Victor Street, Torrance, CA.
Burial will take place immediately after the service, at Pacific Crest Cemetery, 2701 182nd Street at Inglewood Ave, in Redondo Beach.
A reception and gathering will be held back at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, following the burial services.
In lieu of Flowers, the family requests donations can be made to the following organizations: California Carver's Guild Museum, 250 San Simeon Avenue, Suite 9, San Simeon, CA 93452-9715 or Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 21100 Victor Street, Torrance, CA 90503