In Memoriam : Keith Salonen

Keith James Salonen - age: 65
(July 28, 1954 to January 21, 2020 )
Resident of Ukiah, California

Obituary:
Keith James Salonen

Keith Salonen of Ukiah died January 21, 2020, at the age of 65, at home in Ukiah, California. Born July 28, 1954, in Walnut Creek, California, Keith and his twin brother Ken were the third and fourth children of Raymond and Gloria Salonen (and the first set of identical twins born at that Kaiser hospital). He is survived by Ken and Ken’s wife Leslie Salonen; his sisters, Karen Anderson and Kathleen Yowell of Chowchilla, California; his sister-in-law Susan Dutton, of Castelfranco d’Oglio, Italy; daughter Shannon Page and husband Mark Ferrari, of Eastsound, Washington; son Erik Page, wife Page Hersey, and grandson, Julian Jade Page, of Fairfax, California; and by many, many loving cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and dear devoted friends all around the world, including many in his ancestral home of Finland.

Keith grew up in Walnut Creek, and was a lifelong sports enthusiast, from his earliest days playing baseball to his recent devotion to Pickleball. He and Ken both attended Chico State University, where Keith majored in Agriculture, with a focus on ornamental horticulture. After graduation, Keith and Ken spent several months traveling in Europe, meeting a number of Finnish relatives for the first time. By this time, Ken lived in Ukiah, where he met Leslie Barnes. Leslie then made the acquaintance of a lovely young divorcée named Donna Page, and set Keith and Donna up on a blind double date. It was love at first sight; Keith soon moved to Ukiah as well, and he and Donna married in 1984.

After a few brief early jobs, including at Piet’s Antiques, Keith spent his career as the chief groundskeeper for Mendocino County. He planned, planted, and tended the lovely gardens at the courthouse, where he planted a tuomi tree from a cutting from Finland; but most people likely remember his topiary dragons at the county offices on Low Gap Road.

Before and particularly after their retirement, Keith and Donna loved to travel the world. They made sure to come home from every trip with souvenir magnets to arrange on their fridge—in geographical order. The magnet count is 320 (171 U.S., the remainder from overseas).

They had planned decades more adventures together, but Donna developed cancer in early 2017 and died in July of 2018. Keith, along with the rest of the family, mourned her deeply, though he was navigating his widowerhood with courage, enthusiasm, and a renewed lust for life. He was active and cheerful until the very end, when a brain aneurysm took him without warning.

A memorial service will be held at 12:00 noon on Sunday, March 15, 2020, at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 293 Seminary Avenue, Ukiah, California, with a reception immediately following. In lieu of flowers, the family would welcome contributions in Keith and Donna Salonen’s name to Phoenix Hospice of Mendocino County, or to your favorite charity.