Ida Keats, 87

Ida Keats, 87

    Ida Keats, an East Hampton resident for the last 30 years and a longtime volunteer for the Ladies Village Improvement Society, died at her home in Southbury, Mass., on Sept. 5. She was 87, and had been ill for some time.

    She was born in Saarbrucken, Germany, on Aug. 22, 1926, to Maurice Meistermann and the former Hedwig Brombacher. Though born in Germany, she was considered stateless by the government, thanks to her father, a Ukrainian national who had been a prisoner of war in Germany during World War I, having renounced his Ukrainian citizenship. By the war’s end, Ukraine had become part of the Soviet Union, and Mr. Meistermann wanted no part of it.

    Mrs. Keats lived in the town of Homburg, in Saarland, until 1935, when the Third Reich annexed the region, which had been under French rule since the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Wanting to remain under France, her family moved to Ingwiller, Alsace, where the 9-year-old’s classes were conducted in both French and German. In 1938, the family moved to Dijon. Within two years, Germany invaded France, and Mrs. Keats spent her teenage years living under German occupation.

    Upon the liberation of France she became an interpreter for the United States Army, being fluent in English as well as French and German.

    When the war ended she decided to come to this country. She worked for a time on Wall Street, then as a showroom representative for a French perfume firm. While there, she went by a French name, Helene Bodain.

    She met William Perry Keats, her future husband, while introducing a new line of perfume at a Syracuse department store. They were married the following year. When she turned 28, Mrs. Keats became an American citizen.

    The couple lived with their two children in Port Washington and later in Lloyd Harbor. In 1969 they moved to Lewisboro, N.Y. While there, Mrs. Keats joined the First Presbyterian Church of New Caanan, Conn., which is just across the state line, rediscovering there a lifelong love of singing and music.

    Around the same time, said the Keatses’ son, David Keats of Brookline, Mass., they began visiting East Hampton, and in 1972 they built a house just off Hand’s Creek Harbor. Though his mother was not much for swimming, said Mr. Keats, she did like to spend time at the beach, especially the beach at Maidstone Park.

    In 1980 the couple moved here year round. Mrs. Keats threw herself into L.V.I.S. work and eventually became president of the Bargain Book Shop. She also volunteered for the League of Women Voters, the Literacy Volunteers of America, and the Friends of Guild Hall. She also joined the Choral Society of the Hamptons, going on European singing tours in 1987 and 1990, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork as well.

    Around the house, said her son, she loved to cook, entertain, and garden, taking great pride in her beds of roses. With her husband, she traveled extensively, going west to visit her daughter, Cathy Roach, and family in Edwards, Colo., or east to England, France, and Germany.

    After Mr. Keats died, in 2000, his wife moved to a retirement community, Heritage Village, in Southbury, Conn. Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care of Naugatuck, Conn., helped to ease her final days.

    Besides her son and daughter, she leaves two grandchildren and a brother, Jacques Meistermann of Beaujeu, France. A sister, Sylvie Meistermann, died two months ago.

    Mrs. Keats was cremated. Her ashes will be buried in a private ceremony at Cedar Lawn Cemetery, East Hampton, next to her husband’s.

    The family plans a celebration of her life in October, in Boston, and has suggested donations in her memory to the L.V.I.S., 95 Main Street, East Hampton 11937.


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