Cover photo for Keith E. Barkley's Obituary
Keith E. Barkley Profile Photo

Keith E. Barkley

July 24, 1931 — May 20, 2024

Keith E. Barkley


            Keith Edward Barkley was born in Glendale, Arizona July 24, 1931.  Arizona in the 30’s was a harsh environment and after the loss of two children, Bernice and Neely Barkley moved to Nebraska for a better life with their children, Keith, Mary Ellen, and Charles.  Keith attended a one-room school in Chalco and eventually the family bought a farm near Gretna where Keith attended Gretna High School.  He did well in school and received a Regents Scholarship to the University of Nebraska, but with the Korean War going on, he decided to join the Air Force and perhaps learn a skill such as diesel mechanic.  Uncle Sam had other plans for Keith and decided he was needed in Germany in the intelligence service.  While stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany, Keith had the opportunity to see Europe and gained many close friends.  His buddies nicknamed him “Yogi” comparing him to Yogi Bear due to his great appetite.

                        After the service, Keith returned home and when his father died unexpectantly, he and his brother Chuck took over the family farming operation.  The two of them built quite an operation and over the years increased the dairy herd significantly.  Keith and Chuck built most of the buildings on the farm and were early adapters of the computer age with electronic tags on each cow so they could have individualized feeding plans. Over the years, hundreds of school children learned where milk comes from by visiting the dairy.  For many years, Henry Doorly Zoo featured a video of the milking operation in their farm exhibit. 

                        In 1955 Keith met Arlisse Timm at a dance, soon they were an item.  In September of 1956, Keith and Arlisse were married in Resurrection Lutheran Church in Gretna. They moved into the home that his parents had built and in the next few years, they had two sons and a daughter. Several years later, another daughter arrived to complete their family.

                        Keith was mostly all work, but he did find time for being involved in the community.  Keith served in many civic positions.  He was elected to the Gretna School Board in 1960 and served 16 years. He was on the original Board of Educational Service Unit 3 and the original board of the Papio Natural Resources District.  He served as chairman of the Sarpy County School Board, the Sarpy County Planning Board, the Sarpy County Board of Adjustment, and the Gretna Public Schools Foundation Board. He served on the Board of Mid-America Dairymen as Treasurer of that Board and held numerous rolls at the Gretna American Legion Post, including Post Commander.

Again, Keith was mostly all work, but he did find time for other activities.   Keith and Arlisse played pinocle with three other couples once a month for over 30 years.  There were especially fond of the summer steak fry celebrating Keith’s birthday along with close friend Bob Mowinkel. For many summers in the 70’s, Keith, Bob and their family’s traveled to Hidden Haven Resort in Minnesota for a week of fishing. 

I think Keith always regretted not going to college, and to prove to himself he had what it takes, he took an exam and was admitted to the Mensa society.  He took computer classes at Metro Tech Community College in the 80’s so that Barkley Farms would be up to date with the computer age. Anyone who knew Keith never questioned his abilities.  Keith encouraged his children and grandchildren to continue their educations and took great pride in their accomplishments.

Work took a toll on him over the years.  He lost two fingers in a farming accident in the early 70’s.  Some people might be bitter about that, but Keith never complained and went right on working.  He suffered a heart attack in 1995, had a double bypass installed and eventually a new valve and a pacemaker.  The medical system saved him from the same fate as his father.  If only modern medicine could have only prevented his hearing loss.

Arlisse was his constant companion, but when she died of ovarian cancer in 2000, Keith was alone for the first time.  He reconnected with a childhood sweetheart and soon Dee Haldeman was his wife. He and Dee traveled to Europe and got to see the sights of Ireland and Keith returned to some of his old haunts in Germany.  Keith took up woodworking, making furniture and children’s toys, many of which he donated to charity auctions.  During these years, Keith explored the family tree and did extensive research on the Barkley and Peterson family.

At the age of 88, Keith was alone again when Dee passed on.  Keith moved back to Gretna. Though the town had changed a lot over the years, he always said that Gretna and Sarpy County were Home.   His youngest daughter, Lori saw to his needs while he was at the assisted living home.  He got to see several of his grandchildren grow up and we are blessed to have had him with us for so long.

Keith passed away on May 20, 2024 at the age of 92 years at Hillcrest Silver Ridge Assisted Living Facility. God bless you Keith Edward Barkley. 

            He was preceded in passing by his mother Bernice Peterson Barkley, father Wilson Neely Barkley, brother William Neely Barkley and sisters Helen Bethene Barkley and Mary Ellen Boyden, his wife, Arlisse Timm and his second wife Dolores (Dee) Wainwright Haldeman.  He is survived by children Neal (Nancy) Barkley, Gregg Barkley, Gail (Fred) Nika, Lori (Steve) Kanne, step children Jill (Grant) Perry, April Haldeman, 18 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren, a brother Charles Barkley, along with many nieces and nephews.  

            Visitation: Tuesday, May 28, 2024, 5 to 7PM at the mortuary. 

            Funeral: Wednesday, May 29, 2024, 10:30AM at Resurrection Lutheran Church  153 S. McKenna Ave. Gretna

            Internment: Voss-Mohr Cemetery following a luncheon at the church.

            Memorials to Resurrection Lutheran Church, Gretna American Legion Post 216, or Gretna Public Schools Foundation.



              Roeder Mortuary, Inc. - Gretna Chapel
11710 Standing Stone - Gretna, NE - 402-332-0090


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