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Obituaries

Ancel Keys, 100; Diet Researcher Developed K-Rations for Troops

November 25, 2004|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Experimenting in their own kitchen, he and his wife devised recipes and menus, writing the best-selling cookbook and guide "Eat Well and Stay Well." They followed that with "The Benevolent Bean" in 1967 and "How to Eat Well and Stay Well the Mediterranean Way" in 1975.

The couple used their royalties to buy a home on the coast of southern Italy, where they could easily maintain their recommended diet.

Keys, 5 feet 7 and 155 pounds, practiced what he preached. Nevertheless, given his lack of confidence in anecdotal evidence, he was reluctant to attribute his own longevity to his diet.

"Very likely," he told the news media at his 100th birthday last Jan. 26. "But no proof."

Born in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the nephew of actor Lon Chaney, Keys grew up in Berkeley and demonstrated a proclivity for science early in life. He was given a chemistry set on his 8th birthday, which led to an uncharacteristic experimental failure: Trying to chloroform a fly, he keeled over.

At Berkeley, Keys earned a bachelor's degree in economics and political science, a master's in zoology and a doctorate in oceanography and biology.

He earned another doctorate, this time in physiology, at King's College, Cambridge University in England, and did postdoctoral work in Copenhagen under Nobel-winning physiologist August Krogh.

In 1935, while teaching at Harvard, Keys organized and directed the International High Altitude Expedition in the Andes to study the effects of altitude on people living and working at 20,000 feet.

Keys joined the University of Minnesota in 1936 as a biochemist at its Mayo Foundation in Rochester, and a year later moved to the Minneapolis campus to teach physiology. He retired in 1972.

He is survived by his wife; a daughter, Carrie D'Andrea of Bloomington, Minn.; and a son, Dr. Henry Keys of Albany, N.Y. Another daughter, Martha McLain, was shot to death by robbers in Jamaica in 1991.

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