William Keith Archer
January 15, 1936 – May 8, 2023
Keith was born in Salmon, Idaho, to Clara Marie Trump and William Archer. He grew up in Oregon, and went to high school in Tigard, where he was on the wrestling team. After graduating from Portland State University, Keith began a life of service to the U.S. Navy and government.
While we thank him for his service in the National Guard, his decades of work for the Department of Defense represent a significant contribution to this nation. A geophysicist by training, Keith was the senior civilian scientist and team leader on dozens and dozens of flights for Project Magnet for the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office. Operating out of NAS Patuxent River, here in Southern Maryland, Keith and the team flew with a U.S. Navy crew on a P-3, conducting vital surveys of the earth’s magnetic field. The handful of planes used by the Naval Oceanographic Office for Project Magnet provided vital data which aided in navigation for military and civilian air and sea travel for decades later. And his work allowed him to see the world. After crisscrossing the globe so many times, Keith would later tell his family about the beauty of Sri Lanka, culinary adventures with his team in Indonesia and Mexico, the splendors of Japan and South Korea, and an eventful stay in Vietnam in the early Seventies when the Viet Cong raided his room at gunpoint only to steal the beer in the fridge and depart.
Upon moving back to Maryland with his family in 1980, Keith began another stage of his career at what was then named the Defense Mapping Agency. The major project that occupied his time there until his retirement in 1992 was the Digital Chart of the World, a truly vital piece of work for the U.S. military and other agencies. After retiring, Keith continued to work as an independent consultant for a number of years.
Keith was married to his beloved wife, Barbara Ruth Archer from 1978 to her passing in 2021. He is survived by Barbara’s only son, his stepson Glenn Francis Griffith, and Myra Cabe, his step-daughter-in-law. Keith’s first marriage gave him two beloved daughters, Pamela Sutton and Linda Ripley. Keith had one son-in-law Scott Sutton, three grandsons, Ryan, Chad, and Zachary, as well as two great-grandchildren, Spencer and Ronan. The entire family will miss Keith’s patient presence, humor, kindness, and care. He was a shining example of what a father should be.
A resident of Dunkirk, Maryland since 1980, Keith loved nature and animals, Mexican food, science fiction movies and Westerns on TV, and visiting with friends and family in the area. The family will have a private event following Keith’s cremation. In lieu of flowers, we ask that a donation be made to the ASPCA of Maryland. A registered Republican when he was younger, Keith switched teams in recent decades and would have also appreciated your support of Democratic candidates on the local and national levels.