Serving Whitman County since 1877

William Keith Zaring

Sept. 30, 1929 Oct. 2, 2023

William Keith Zaring, 94, longtime Lacrosse, Wash., resident, passed away October 2, 2023, at the Courtyard in Colfax, Wash.

Keith was born September 30, 1929, in Baker City, Ore., to Paul Rider and Effie Jane (Smithpeter) Zaring. He was raised in Lacrosse where he attended school and graduated with the class of 1947. Following graduation Keith worked for the Union Pacific Railroad (UP). It was his first job away from home and helped form his love of steam powered locomotives. Although he only spent a couple of years working for the UP, he spoke fondly of his time working at Ayer Junction along the Snake River, WA. He also attended Washington State University (WSU) majoring in journalism.

In 1950, as war broke out in Korea, Keith enlisted in the United States Air Force. Keith was a Communication Specialist in the Air Force and following training in Texas, Wyoming, and California, he was assigned to the Pentagon in Washington D.C. His duty section was responsible for bringing online a classified messaging system that was still in use in the 90's before the internet technology finally retired the system. Keith and Lelia both had a direct hand in developing a classified teletype system that became the main communications system for the whole U.S. military.

It was during this time that he met Leila Allen Perkins, who was also serving in the Air Force. They wed on August 26, 1952, in Washington, DC. Following the Korean War, they moved to the Zaring family farm in Whitman County, Wash., where together they made their home south of Dusty. Keith was an avid reader and was known for reading the Wall Street Journal from cover to cover. He enjoyed bird watching, and especially enjoyed feeding quail and chickadees in front of their house in Dusty, Wash.

Although he moved home and became a farmer, he served his community by serving on the board of directors for National Federation of Farmers (NFO) and Inland Power and Electric Utility Company. He was also a long serving member of the Free Masons and Shrine. Keith was self-taught in money management and was often dabbling in stocks. Keith's faith was important, and he was an active member of the Lacrosse Methodist Church. His family was very important to him and was always his top priority. Keith not only enjoyed his grandchildren and spending time with them, but was a great mentor and role model to them as well. He was thrilled to meet his great-grandchildren and thoroughly enjoyed when they came to visit.

Keith is survived by his two sons Roger (Peggy) Zaring of Lacrosse and Paul (Tracie) Zaring of Richland, Wash .; and his four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren (and two more great-grandchildren expected in the next few months). He was preceded in death by his wife, Leila on October 31, 2022, by his brother Thomas in 2010, and by his parents.

A graveside service for both Keith and Leila will be held in the Spring of 2024 at the Lacrosse Cemetery. Military Honors will follow the graveside service. Corbeill Funeral Homes in Colfax is caring for the family. On-line condolences may be made at


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