69, of Canandaigua, died at Strong Memorial Hospital, the morning of Oct. 17 from injuries sustained when the car he was riding in collided with a runaway trailer in Lima, NY.
His tragic death marks the end of a life that was remarkable for its honesty, humility and kindness. Lloyd was both a gentle man and also a gentleman. Born in rural west Texas in 1954, he was the third of 5 children and the oldest son of Jane Keegan and Dick Key. At 16, the family moved to Austin, TX and Lloyd pursued technical school. A welder by trade and a true master of his craft, Lloyd first worked the 1970’s Texas oil boom then traveled & worked in Hawaii and Mexico. In 1977 he headed east “on a whim”, settling in Rochester and later, in 1998, in Canandaigua. He loved the landscape, the changes of the seasons and the lakes of western NY, often describing them as a “pretty fair swap” for the armadillos and tumbleweeds he’d grown up with.
In 1994 he met and married Kris Nielson-Key after a 5-month courtship. Opposite in many ways, but inseparable from their very first meeting, Kris & Lloyd shared 29 wonderful years and two wonderful children.
In 2001, with Kris, Lloyd caught the history bug and delved into a study of the pioneer era of western NY State that he never let go of. In 2003 he became a co-founder of the Canandaigua-based not-for-profit organization The Carriage Project (later the Heritage Project). His quiet determination put the backbone into dozens of innovative historical programs and promotions from 2002 to 2009.
Whether planting a garden bed at the Ontario County Historical Society, repairing the axle on a horse drawn carriage headed for the Walnut Hill Carriage Competition, assembling artifacts for regional school programs or serving meals in period clothing at the project’s 2007 Heritage Cafe program his enthusiasm never wavered. As a rig welder, Lloyd traveled extensively and put in long hours. However the travel had an upside as it allowed him to tuck research excursions into an otherwise demanding schedule. Both on his own and with Kris, he visited museums, libraries, archives and heritage sites in CT, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania and, of course, throughout NY State
In addition to his historical work Lloyd was an undeterred advocate for what he called “cognitive diversity”. He ardently believed that people struggling with learning differences such as autism, Asperger’s and dyslexia are not “disabled” but rather “disadvantaged” by restrictive societal and educational norms that stifle inclusion.
Lloyd was an avid reader with a keen interest in subjects ranging from politics to fine art. He planned to “retire” next spring, following his 70th birthday, to days full of sailing, music study, carriage driving, home brewing, beekeeping, long drives in his BMW roadster and perhaps most dear to him, to blacksmithing work in a traditional shop he was planning at the family farm in Hopewell.
Lloyd is survived by his wife Kris, daughter Olivia, son-in-law Cody and son Philip. He was predeceased by his parents and oldest sister Claudia.
His kindness, honesty, generosity and love are irreplaceable and will never be forgotten.
An 11 a.m. funeral mass is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18 at St. Mary’s church (St. Benedict’s parish), 95 N. Main St., Canandaigua. A eulogy reception and luncheon will follow, Noon-2 pm, also at St. Mary’s (Dougherty Hall). All are welcome and encouraged to bring a homemade dessert to pass as Lloyd simply loved home cooking!
The family encourages those wishing to commemorate Lloyd with a gift or contribution to visit www.remembering-lloyd.com where they can register for news and updates on the Lloyd R. Key Memorial Orchard to be planted in Hopewell during a celebration of life weekend spring 2024.