Elizabeth H. <I>Smith</I> Keys

Photo added by Linda Ellis

Elizabeth H. Smith Keys

  • Birth 2 Jan 1890
  • Death 2 Feb 1976 Ocean Springs, Jackson County, Mississippi, USA
  • Burial Ocean Springs, Jackson County, Mississippi, USA
  • Memorial ID 42577166

Appeared in The SunHerald Newspaper October 6, 2013

Headstone marks resting place of Elizabeth H. Keys, prominent black educator in Ocean Springs

By GENE COLEMAN — Special to the Sun Herald
Elizabeth H. Keys, a prominent black educator in Ocean Springs, will no longer lie in an unmarked grave, thanks to a donated headstone unveiled Monday night.
Keys, originally Elizabeth H. Smith, moved to Ocean Springs in 1917 to begin a teaching career. She began teaching at the city's first black school and soon married Marshall Keys, who was the assistant principal. Elizabeth Keys became principal in 1943 and was still working when the school was named for her in 1958.
Deanne Newer, associate professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi, studied the history of the school and Keys. The school's name changed over the years with integration and the growth of the school system and is now the E.H. Keys Alternative Education Center. Newer said she hopes Keys' full name will be returned to the school.
"I think that name Elizabeth H. Keys should remain in Ocean Springs very proudly," Newer said. "She left a legacy and legislation for us all to follow. She really was truly a great lady."
Judy Dalgo, an instructor of health science studies at Ocean Springs High School, taught for nine years at the school when it was E.H. Keys Vocational-Technical School. Last year she led a project in which her students interviewed former students and educators from the school to record their oral histories that were funded through a grant by the Mississippi Humanities Council and are on file with the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, as well as USM in Hattiesburg.
During that time, Newer discovered that Keys died with no family to speak for her. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Ocean Springs in an unmarked family plot. When Dalgo asked her students to help raise funds for a marker, student Sanders Edmonson offered to donate a marker from his family's quarry.
The ceremony for unveiling the headstone was attended by former students and teachers from the school. The evening included a presentation on Keys' family history and a viewing of clips from the oral histories.
Former student Jeanne Megs, who was a homecoming queen at the high school, said there are no words to meet her level of gratitude for Sanders' contribution and all others who were involved in memorializing the school and Keys' legacy.
"Thank you does not seem adequate for what he has done for us," Megs said. "For all the students, wow, I'm not a teacher but if I was, all of your grades would be A-plus-plus."


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  • Maintained by: Milton Jenkins
  • Originally Created by: I CARE
  • Added: 1 Oct 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 42577166
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Elizabeth H. Smith Keys (2 Jan 1890–2 Feb 1976), Find A Grave Memorial no. 42577166, citing Evergreen Cemetery, Ocean Springs, Jackson County, Mississippi, USA ; Maintained by Milton Jenkins (contributor 46627696) .