Cover photo for Norman "Keith" Dewey's Obituary

Norman "Keith" Dewey

September 28, 1925 — February 18, 2024

Worley, ID

Norman "Keith" Dewey

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Norman “Keith” Dewey, or as he liked to be called, “Dirty Dewey,” passed away on February 18, 2024. After his birth on September 28, 1925 to Ernest and Mary Dewey in Flint Michigan, he traveled as an infant with his Mother back to their home in Moscow, Idaho. As a child he took a job as a paper boy and added his earnings to his Mother’s household finances. As a teenager with entrepreneurial dreams, Keith and his older brother Don opened Moscow Cycle Shop at 318 W. 3rd St. for bicycle rentals, sales, and repairs.

While still in high school, WWII called and Keith answered. He trained, and received his aerial gunnery wings at Las Vegas, Nevada June, 1944. He was stationed at Bury St Edmunds, England with the Army Air Corps, 8th Air Force, 94th Bomb Group as a Tail Gunner in a B-17 “Flying Fortress.” His crew flew 35 bombing Missions over Nazi military and industrial installations. This Bomb Group was cited by the president for its historic bombing of the Muhlembau aircraft assembly plants at Brunswick, Germany. With his distinguished combat career, at the age of 19 Keith was awarded the fourth oak leaf cluster to the air medal for meritorious achievement during bombing attacks.

As dangerous as these missions were, Keith was ever so mischievous. Returning to base from more productive missions, Keith told how he would put his foot up on the rudder cable and mess up the plane’s trim. The pilot compensated for the wobbly trim and after struggling with it a while, finally got the plane flying straight. Then Keith would remove his foot from the rudder cable and the plane’s trim would be messed up again. The pilot trimmed the plane and Keith repeated the process. The pilot figured it out and yelled into the headset, “Dewey! Are you [messing] around with the rudder controls?”

 After the war, around 1949 Keith and his brother Don ventured into real estate and purchased an expanse of lakefront property on Lake Coeur d’Alene which they divided into several lots and sold them over many years to various families and friends. Something extraordinary resulted from this endeavor. A community was born of lifelong friendships that has spanned four generations.

In December of 1950 Keith married Ursula Harlan and they settled in Spokane, Washington where they started their family of four children. In 1951, Keith and his brother Don became business partners again and bought Spokane Hobby Distributors from Elmer Vordahl. Then in 1959 the brothers expanded their enterprise when they bought out PD Hayes and changed the name to Northwestern Hobby Distributors. This expansion included a warehouse in Spokane and a second one in Seattle, where Keith and his family re-settled a couple of years later. Around 1969, Keith and Don bought the company Unique Merchandise and changed the name to Northwestern Hobby and Toy, Inc.

Keith and Ursula introduced their children to travel, snow skiing, water skiing, and outdoor camping adventures. During his life, Keith spent most of his time at Lake Coeur d’Alene where he and Ursula eventually retired. One of Keith’s hobbies was flying model airplanes with a group of other flight enthusiasts. Every summer for about 20 years he and a life-long friend co-hosted the Great North Idaho Invitational Float Fly at the lake.

Keith was unmistakable in his electric orange shirts. One could find him in the early days, as a family friend described him, “Holding a chainsaw in one hand and a gin and tonic in the other.” He was a loving and generous husband, partner, father, brother, uncle, grandfather and friend. He was always telling jokes and messing up the punchlines, and he enjoyed hunting with his buddies, and there were many. He followed his dreams and was industrious, but never in a hurry.

After losing his wife to cancer, he found love again with Shirley and their relationship lasted over 22 years. She was a comfort to him until his passing.

Keith is survived by his loving partner Shirley, his daughter Daylene Dewey of Coeur d’Alene, son David Dewey (Karen) of Everett, daughter Dana Dewey of Otis Orchards, six grand children, and two great-grand children. He is also survived by many nephews and nieces.

Keith was preceded in death by his wife Ursula Dewey in 1999, and his daughter Denise Dewey in 2009.

Tombstones list birth date – death date. What is most important is what happens between the dates, the dash. Keith filled the dash with 98 years of living a meaningful and joyful life. We are the recipients of the greatest gift and legacy he gave all of us, and that is an enduring love and friendship we have for all of our family and friends.

A celebration of Keith’s life will take place on July 27, 2024 at 4:30 in the afternoon at his family home on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Norman "Keith" Dewey, please visit our flower store.

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