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80 to 100: Keeney dances her way to the age of 105
Black Diamond born-and-bred Ruby Favro-Androsko-Keeney turned 105 Feb. 2. Though her age has rendered her physically frail, she remains sharp as a tack and is no less the passionate woman she’s been her entire life.
Her granddaughter, Gail VanHoof, was quick to share a video of Keeney dancing with a younger man from her wheelchair. When they finished, he kissed her, and when he pulled away, she pulled him back and said, “Kiss me again!”
Keeney is the daughter of Mary Raison, who had emigrated to the United States from Belgium on a banana-shipping boat. Keeney’s oldest brother Emil – a baby at the time – ran a fever, and the other passengers wanted to be rid of him to save the ship from illness.
“They wanted to throw him overboard,” she said.
Keeney’s mother and brother made it safe and sound to America, where another son, Frank, was born. The boys’ father later died.
Keeney’s mother then married Italian immigrant Joe Favro, who was Keeney’s father.
Keeney was born Feb. 2, 1907, in Black Diamond, where she remained most of her life. She was joined by three more sisters.
Keeney attended Black Diamond High School and continues to represent the class of 1925 each and every year at reunions.
Growing up – “When taverns opened up at 12 o’clock,” she said – Keeney was fond of dancing. She met Steve Androsko at a dance hall in Black Diamond when she was 19. He charmed her on the floor, she said, and during intermission he asked her to come back to his car.
VanHoof was momentarily taken aback by Keeney’s story, but then encouraged her on.
“What happened in his car, Grandma?”
“Love,” Keeney replied.
Keeney and Androsko dated for a year, a portion of which Androsko spent living with Keeney’s family. Mother Mary would lock Androsko in at night to make sure he didn’t sneak across the hall to Keeney’s room, Keeney said.
The two married in 1927, and had one son, Joe Androsko.
Keeney held several jobs through the years, including working at brother Emil “Frog” Raison’s Boulevard Tavern in Renton, the Black Diamond Bakery, Morganville Tavern, Weyerhaeuser, and the Rainier State School, where she was a cook for more than 16 years. Working as a barmaid, she knew how to handle herself and didn’t take guff from anyone.
“The guys – well, boys – sat there giving me a hard time,” Keeney said. But she would give them a hard time right back.
Keeney and Androsko continued their love of dancing throughout their marriage; in fact, it’s what they did the night he died in 1962. They had gone out with two female friends to a dance hall and when they returned home, Androsko called Keeney to the bathroom. There, he attempted to say something to his wife before collapsing of a heart attack.
Keeney’s son and grandchildren moved into her home after Androsko’s death, until the early 1970s when she sold the house and moved to Enumclaw.
In the interim, she met and married Lee Keeney, a repair man who fixed her furnace. He too, was a talented dancer.
“He danced to AC/DC at my sister’s wedding,” VanHoof said.
In addition to dancing, Ruby and Lee also enjoyed going to the casinos to play the slots. Ruby seemed to have an aptitude for hitting $1,000 jackpots, VanHoof said.
Lee died several years ago and Keeney has since moved to Heritage House in Buckley. She’s built a lasting presence in the community, with five grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren.