Cover photo for Berthe Elaine Wells Keith's Obituary
Berthe Elaine Wells Keith Profile Photo

Berthe Elaine Wells Keith

October 19, 1941 — May 8, 2024

Berthe Elaine Wells Keith

Berthe Elaine Wells Keith was born October 19, 1941 to D. Alberta Hawker Wells and James Port Wells, in her grandparents’ home in Menan, Idaho. She grew up in communities in California and then Iowa City, IA.  She graduated high school as covaledictorian in 1959 and went to Mount Holyoke College as an Emily Dickenson Scholar.  She received her BA at the New School in New York City in 1963, and earned her MA at the University of Utah in 1966.


Berthe married Dr. Thomas Barland Keith from Marion, Iowa on June 23, 1962.  Tom was captivated at first sight with her beautiful smile and a laugh that lights up any room. She worked at Smith Barney Investment Banking in New York City, while Tom finished his medical degree at Cornell University Medical College.  They also lived in Sitka, Alaska and Salt Lake City, Utah where they raised their four daughters.  Berthe loved her daughters fiercely - she was a true, “Mama Bear.”  Not consequently, her name is French and pronounced: “Bear” with a “T” at the end. 


Berthe was a certified financial planner.  She was also active with the League of Women Voters and supporting women’s rights and other important causes from 1970 to 2000. She served on their Utah state board. 


Berthe was passionate about art, architecture and interior design. She applied her passions to creating beautiful homes.  In the 1970’s she remodeled a home in Salt Lake City, Utah with modern design, incorporating passive and active solar systems, and amazing views of the city and the Wasatch Mountains. And then later in Palm Coast, Florida, she designed and built a beautiful retirement home on the beach with an open design and the latest hurricane protections, where they enjoyed views of dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes whales.  The home successfully survived multiple hurricanes with minimal structural damage.  


Berthe loved traveling with Tom to explore the art and culture of this beautiful world.  A lifelong reader and student, Berthe devoured literature and kept up with world events through all forms of media. Berthe and Tom taught their daughters history and art through cross country car trips across the United States and Europe that Berthe meticulously planned, stopping at every historical sight and museum.  We daughters complained back then, but now understand how lucky we were. After retirement, Berthe and Tom visited all the state capitals, 58 National Parks, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, China and Canada.


Berthe is survived by her loving husband of 62 years, Dr, Thomas Keith of Jacksonville, Florida; daughters Gwendolyn, Jennifer and Kathryn; and five grandchildren, Cari, Keith, Keagan, Ava and Theodore.  She is predeceased by their daughter, Kristin, and brother, Owen.


In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer donations to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: 



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