From the obituary files of Novella Tole

A service of Worship
to Almighty God
Celebrating the Life
Mrs. Gretchen Lorraine Keyes
August 28, 1914-March 5, 1999

Thursday March 11, 1999
Lewis Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church
343 Reeves Street
Lexington, Tennessee
Rev. Stanley T. Richardson, Pastor


            The journey of life takes us through transitions, much like the seasons of the year. We experience the miracle of birth, the freedom of childhood, a time to realize adulthood dreams, and the joy of living a fulfilled life, at peace with ourselves and our Creator. We understand the journey.

            Mrs. Gretchen Lorraine Keyes was born in Decatur County Tennessee to the union of the late Reverend John F. Florence and Mrs. Clyde Funderburk. Lorraine was an only child and was the joy of her grandparents Adam and Caroline Funderburk.

            She was educated in the public schools of Henderson County Tennessee when her mother relocated to Henderson County. While staying with her aunt and uncle Reverend and Mrs. John Marshall Newsom, she also attended the public schools of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

            Gretchen Lorraine was born into the African Methodist Episcopal Church and at an early age claimed Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour. Lewis Chapel A.M.E. Church of Lexington, Tennessee became the focus of her religious training and service. She was faithful to her church and often reminisced in later years about the number of A.M.E. Bishops she helped to elect.

            Married briefly to John Henry Kizer who preceded her in death, one child was born to this union Barbara Jean who also preceded her in death. Later marrying William Webster Easley, Sr. who preceded her in death, two children were born to this union, William Webster Easley, Jr. and Charlotte Ann (Easley) Sharp. In later years she was united in marriage to the Reverend Eugene K. Keyes of Union City, Tennessee with whom she served as First Lady for Congregations in both Decaturville and Union City, Tennessee and also Fulton, Kentucky.

            Prior to her marriage to Reverend Keyes, Gretchen Lorraine traveled extensively throughout the United States with the African Methodist Episcopal Church as a Delegate to the A.M.E. General Conferences (1968, 1972, 1976, 1980 and l984), serving on the General Conference Commission, and also as a Delegate to WMS Missionary Quadrennial Conventions and Lay Biennial Conventions as well.

            For many years Mrs. Keyes was employed as an Insurance Agent for the Atlanta Life Insurance Company and the Universal Life Insurance Company. She also served many years as Area Chairperson for the West Tennessee Conference Branch of the W.M.S.

            In her declining years following the death of her husband, Rev. Keyes, she relocated back to Lexington, Tennessee where she was active with the Henderson County Senior Citizen Center and was a Volunteer Reader for Elementary School Children in Henderson County. She was a willing volunteer whenever possible for her church and her community and was warm and gregarious to anyone she met.

            Gretchen Lorraine leaves to cherish her memory, son, Reverend William W. Easley, Jr., (devoted daughter in law Ora L.) of Mitchellville, Maryland, daughter, Charlotte Ann Sharp (devoted son in law Charles), of Lexington, Tennessee, six grandchildren, James A. Taylor and Rudolph Taylor, Jr. of Knoxville, Tennessee, Cheneta Yvonne Williams of Cincinnati, Ohio, William W. Easley, III, of Mitchellville, Maryland, Tonia Sharp of Nashville, Tennessee and Nakia Sharp of Knoxville, Tennessee, eight great grandchildren, nine great great grandchildren, several nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of friends.

            Her family is reluctant to see her go, but we remain thankful to Almighty God for Blessing us through Her Life and Witness! We Love You Mother!

Lexington Cemetery

Cecil Easley, Eugene Easley, Seven Randalls, Jasper Walker, Dennis Easley, Shawn McClain, Joe Henry Stanford, Steve Massey

Women's Missionary Society, Ministers' Spouses, Friends

Professional Services Entrusted


Return to Funeral Programs