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Keith A. Portis
June 20, 1955 ~ December 15, 2023 (age 68) 68 Years Old
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Keith Allen Portis, affectionately known as Bo Diddley, a man who embraced life with wisdom, humor, and whose journey through life resembled the rhythm of the blues and the soul of rock and roll, embarked on his final journey peacefully on December 15, 2023, at the VA Hospice Unit in Dayton, Ohio, after valiantly facing the challenges of cancer. Born on June 20, 1955, in Springfield, Ohio, to the rhythmic duo of Mr. Aquilla "Buddy" Portis and Mrs. Maybelle (née Hardnick) Portis, Keith was the fifth child and youngest son of a family that resonated with love and laughter.
Growing up in Springfield, Ohio, Keith grooved through life with the nickname Bo Diddley, a nod to the legendary rock and roll maestro who released the iconic hit "Bo Diddley" in 1955—the same year Keith entered the world. It was a fitting moniker for a man who knew how to add a beat to everyone's step, and which reflected his vibrant spirit and love for life. Keith had a rhythm and charisma that lit up every room he entered.
Keith's athleticism shone during his time at Kiefer Junior High School, leaving a legacy with two varsity letters for football and basketball. Later, he continued his education at Springfield South High School, earning his G.E.D. after enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, where he proudly served his country.
Keith’s military service was marked by distinction, earning promotions to Private First Class on May 30, 1975, and Lance Corporal on August 1, 1975. Keith’s dedication was recognized with a Meritorious Mast Award on December 30, 1975, during his tour of duty at Camp Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Keith's faithful service, commitment to duty, and love for his country earned him an honorable discharge, leaving behind a legacy of courage and excellence.
Beyond his remarkable service as a Marine, Keith was a wise and compassionate soul, a family historian who believed in the power of storytelling. "The most important part of history is our story," he'd say, emphasizing the importance of sharing our narratives. As the family historian, he tirelessly collected and documented stories, expressing the importance of passing down our personal histories. His commitment to preserving family tales demonstrated his belief that every story, no matter how small, contributed to the greater melody of our shared history and shaping our understanding of the past.
In addition to his love for history, Keith cultivated another kind of legacy in his beautiful garden—a sanctuary where he found solace and shared his father's green thumb. A visit to Keith's home often meant leaving with a plant cutting—a living reminder of his generous spirit and a testament to his giving nature that left a lasting impression on all fortunate enough to cross his path.
Keith is survived by his brothers Aquilla L. Portis and Donald E. (Susan) Portis; sisters Patricia J. (Larry) Ham, Vanessa M. Portis-Reed, and Sharon J. (Chester) Cole. Also left to cherish his memory are his uncle Melvin Hardnick; former brother-in-law and friend SFC Ret., Arthur W. Reed Jr.; stepmother Betty (née Logan) Portis. He leaves behind a legacy of love for nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, and friends. In the tapestry of his life, Keith's story is woven with threads of family, friendship, and the laughter that echoed through shared moments.
He joins his adoring parents, Mr. Aquilla Portis & Mrs. Maybelle Portis, in eternal rest. Keith is also reunited with his aunt Estella (née Portis) Lewis, nephews Truman Portis, Donnie Alexander, Tyjuan Young, great-nephews Amare Smith, Chris Florence, and several other beloved family members.
A final salute to Keith will be held on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, at 1 p.m., adorned with military honors at Dayton National Cemetery where he will be laid to rest with the honor and dignity he deserves. The procession will form at 11:45 a.m., leaving the Robert C. Henry Funeral Home at 12 noon, a tribute to a man whose life was a rhythm of love, laughter, and the everlasting beat of family.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations to the American Cancer Society in Keith's honor.
Semper Fi, Keith. Your legacy lives on in the stories you told, the gardens you tended, and the love you shared. May your laughter continue to echo in the everlasting beat of family.