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A father’s love



Keye's Hill father love
Robert "Boo" Keyes on top of Keyes Hill. Photo by David Day

In the early days of 2019, Karley Keyes and Jamie Mckee met, like all modern romances, online.

“He added me on Snapchat and it went from there,” said Karly.

For their first date, they went out to the local watering hole called Backwoods. Three months later Karley brought Jamie home to meet her parents.

Mckee Keyes

Jamie Mckee and Karly Keyes.

While they were there Karley showed him “Keyes Hill.”

Keyes Hill is the hilly and forested area on 61 North in Vicksburg that is a part of the place where her parents, Trish and Robert “Boo” Keyes, have a booming recycling business.

From one spot on the southwestern end of Keyes Hill, a beautiful view of Chickasaw Bayou and the Louisiana plains at the bottom tip of the Mississippi Delta can be seen. The sun setting in the Louisiana plains at the end of an October afternoon created the perfect backdrop for Karley. “We used to love to ride our four-wheelers up there. It’s so pretty, you can see for days.”

fathers love keyes hill

Sunset on Keyes Hill, “You can see for days” – Karley Keyes

When Karley accepted Jamie’s marriage proposal she could think of no better background for the wedding than the setting sun side of Keye’s Hill. With the help of wedding planner Bethany Sigrest they’ve put together plans to host close to 600 people on the top of Keyes Hill for the wedding.

That’s a lot of cars to park. Daddy Keyes estimates they have close to 40 acres of flat land on top of Keye’s Hill now. “When we started there was probably half an acre of flat land.”

The 2000-acre plot on both sides of 61 was purchased by the Keyes in 2011 and he has wanted to smooth it out for a very long time.

“It was all high hills, trees, and sharp, deep ravines. When she said she wanted the wedding here I had to make it happen,” said Keyes.

Keyes hill fathers love

An aerial view of Keyes Hill.

Karley is the oldest of three children and the only girl.

“She has always been Daddy’s little girl,” said Trish Keyes. “He’d do anything for her. If it required moving mountains, he’ll do it.”

Keyes also corrected a runoff problem on the western slope of the property that solved a centuries-old issue of dirt clogging up the drainage of the road far below. Boo and Trish had talked about putting a house up there one day but hadn’t really done much to make it happen other than dream about an infinity pool and how nice it would be.

The view from Keyes Hill includes Thompson Lake and parts of Long Lake. When fully complete, long after the wedding, Keyes plans on building his homestead on the land. As an added feature, Keyes created spots for three different lakes on the property including an 87-acre lake near the wedding site.

In January of 2022, Boo Keyes started clearing some trees and to move some dirt.

“I ended up having to buy some equipment because there was no way we were going to get this done in time,” said Keyes with a bit of a relieved smile. “We moved about 2 and 1/2 million yards of dirt and cleared a lot of trees. We had to smooth out the peaks and fill up the ravines and then make them stable enough.”

Boo came up with a plan of what to do with the hundreds of acres in his head.

“He has that 3-dimensional mind. It takes special people to have that,” bragged Trish about Boo’s ability to conceive and execute a project of this magnitude in his mind.

A leveled out Keyes Hill. Photo by David Day

One of the views from Keyes Hill. Photo by David Day

Over the next 9 months, as fuel prices skyrocketed and inflation ate away at every dollar, Keyes kept digging and smoothing out the hill that bears his name.

“On just fuel and labor I’ve spent over two million dollars since January,” said Keyes. That doesn’t include the cost of a new Caterpillar D8T and a D6T or the D3 dozer along with a couple of Trackhoes. “We probably have more dirt-moving equipment than anyone in the city now.”

“It’s been an expensive project, but it’s all done. For the last 4 or 5 months, we’ve been working seven days a week, 12 hours a day to get it done on time,” said Keyes. “Last Friday we finished the work and laid the road.”

Keyes never thought he’d do a project of this magnitude and joked about trying to get out of it.

“I tried to get her to fly off somewhere. I told her I’d pay for his family, our family, all their friends, I’d buy the plane tickets and everything. But, she insisted she’s going to get married on top of this hill.”

There are those who say they’d move a mountain for you and then there is Boo and Trish Keyes.

Karley, said, “My Dad moved a mountain for me.”


Karley and Jamie will exchange their vows this Saturday night atop Keyes Hill just about sunset.



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