By Lara Bricker
Hampton Union, Friday, April 9, 2004
Few people in Hampton got to know Alice Keyho, the 85-year-old woman who died at her sister's home two weeks ago.
As Alice's sister Helen Garland sits in jail, charged with beating her before her death, Alice's life story has been tightly guarded. Most people know Alice simply as the woman who died in Garland's house, possibly at her own sister's hands.
But that is not the legacy of Alice, a woman who was known by everyone in the Newton, Mass., neighborhood where she grew up and lived most of her life.
I wrote a column about my search for clues about Alice's life last week. Many people responded in e-mails with similar thoughts, saying they wanted to know who she was and what her life had been. They wrote that she wasn't simply the victim of a crime but a person who had lived a long, and one hopes a full, life before her tragic death.
"I found myself doing the same things, scouring the Internet trying to find a hint of what Alice Keyho was like," a woman named Amy wrote to me.
"I hope you can shed some light on Alice in the near future," a man named Kevin wrote.
Then, an e-mail came from a longtime friend of Alice's, who considered her a member of her extended family. The woman wanted others to know about the Alice she knew and loved. She asked that her name not be used because Alice's family has requested no information be released at this time.
Alice never drove. She walked everywhere in her neighborhood and stopped to talk to everyone along the way. If a person needed to know anything about the neighborhood, it was Alice they asked. An underlying speech impediment made it difficult to understand Alice at times, but those who knew her got used to her way of talking.
And most people in the neighborhood knew her.
Alice kept track of her friends' and family's birthdays and anniversaries in a little book she kept. She never forgot to send someone a card and it always seemed to arrive on the exact date of the occasion. Her friends marveled at how she was able to time the cards so perfectly. When a card arrived late, Alice would write a note of apology for the delay.
Alice always loved dogs and owned German shepherds throughout her life. If she happened to be out talking with someone when noontime arrived, she would excuse herself with "time to feed the puppy dog." It didn't matter if her dog had long since forgotten his days as a puppy. She adored her dogs and treated them like her children.
One of the few places in Hampton that Alice was known was Marguerite's Beauty Salon, where she occasionally got her hair done. Alice always loved having her hair done and when she lived in Massachusetts had it done once a week. Her hair always looked tidy and stylish, her friend said.
For many years Alice worked at a sweater factory in Newton called Greenfields. The factory has been closed at least 25 years, having been turned into condominiums. She never worked after the sweater factory closed, but her brother always took care of her. When her brother became ill, she moved to stay with her sister Helen in Hampton.
Alice's friend hadn't seen her in about four years, when they were at the same funeral services.
Now, the kind woman she knew most of her life has been laid to rest in a private funeral. She never expected that the next time she encountered news of her dear friend Alice would be in reports of her untimely death.
"Alice was a living, breathing, compassionate and happy individual," the woman wrote. "It was an honor and pleasure to have known such a special lady. She is sadly missed."
[Lara Bricker is an assistant editor and writer for the Hampton Union and the Exeter News-Letter.]