Jim Bob Key, a Winnfield native and lifetime resident of Natchitoches, died Tuesday, May 23, at his home.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, May 27, at 11 a.m. at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception with Very Rev. Michael Craig Scott, VG serving as celebrant, with graveside services following at Memory Lawn Cemetery under the direction of Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home.
The family will receive friends on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Chapel of Blanchard-St. Denis.
Mr. Key was born on July 5, 1932, to Corinne and James Key. He graduated from Winnfield High School in 1950 and earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in art and interior design from Northwestern State University in 1954. A lifetime music enthusiast, he played percussion in the NSU Band and timpani in the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra. He was a member of the Gamma Rho chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Symphonia.
In 1955 he married the former Betty Sue Choate, and as a newlywed husband he served in the U.S. Navy from 1955-1957. Upon return to Natchitoches in 1957, he joined the family business, Choate’s Interiors, and in 1960 he and Betty Sue purchased the business and operated it until it closed in 2017.
Key assisted in the founding of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Society, where he served as a past president and a lifetime member of the board of directors. He served on the National Council of the Metropolitan Opera and the regional boards of the Shreveport Symphony and Shreveport Opera. He was a member of the Louisiana State Arts Council, which founded the Louisiana Outdoor Drama Association amphitheater located at Grand Ecore. He was inducted in the NSU Creative and Performing Arts Hall of Fame in 2014 and selected a Natchitoches Treasure in 2015.
He was a former president of the Natchitoches Rotary Club, served on the state board of directors of the Louisiana Mental Health Association, and was a member of the board of directors of the Natchitoches Historic Foundation.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife of 53 years; He leaves his daughters, Pamela Key DeBlieux (Jimmy), Susan Key Grayson (Paul), and Patricia Key Repp (Scott) of McKinney, TX; his grandchildren, Lesley DeBlieux Dunn (Darren) of Dallas, Emily DeBlieux Poche (Jim); Andrew Michael DeBlieux (Madeline) of Shreveport; Mary Elizabeth Grayson Nielsen (Brad) of Dallas; David Paul Grayson (Sadie) of Atlanta, GA; John Louis Repp and Anne Elizabeth Repp of Dallas, and William Richard Repp of McKinney, Texas. He had 12 great-grandchildren. His very dear family friend, William Brent, also survives him.
Honorary pallbearers will be L.J. Melder, Ed Rath, William Brent, Dr. Greg Handel, Jeff Gary, Gary DeBlieux, Dr. Jeff Mathews, Clay Abington, Jay Pleasant, Mickey Brewton, and members of the Gamma Rho chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
In lieu of floral donations, memorials may be made to the Betty and Jim Bob Key Scholarship at Northwestern State University (NSU Foundation, Natchitoches, LA 71497).
The family expresses a sincere, heartfelt thank you of appreciation to Janet and Charles Brown and Sandra McClinton for their compassionate care and close comforting friendship that they each shared with our dad. Additionally, our family thanks Hospice of Natchitoches for their guidance, care, and support.