Major General

William Shaffer Key

Inducted 2021

William Shaffer Key

Major General William Shaffer Key was born 6 October 1889 in Dudleyville, Alabama. He completed High School in Opelika and on 7 April 1907 he enlisted as a Private in the Georgia National Guard and was commissioned as a 2d Lieutenant 1910.

In 1911 he and his family moved to Wewoka, Oklahoma where he established Key Hardware, Key Funeral Home, and Wewoka Gas Company and he joined Company G, Oklahoma National Guard.

In 1915 Key was promoted to Captain and took G Company with the 1st Oklahoma Infantry in 1916 to the Mexican Border. In 1917 he volunteered for military service and served as the Divisional Quartermaster, 7th Division. Key’s leadership, organizational and planning skills were recognized and would see him rapidly promoted and a Colonel by war’s end.

In 1919 he returned to Wewoka to manage his businesses and rejoined the Oklahoma National Guard. In 1924, the Governor appointed him to be the Warden of the Oklahoma Penitentiary and later the Chairman of the Pardon and Parole Board. In 1925, Key was promoted to Brigadier General commanding the 70th Field Artillery Brigade, 45th Division. In 1927, he relocated to Oklahoma City and established a real estate and oil business. In 1935 BG Key was appointed to be the Oklahoma Administrator for the Works Progress Administration, employing 100,000 Oklahomans. In 1936, BG Key was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

On 2 February 1937 Key was promoted to Major General and assumed command of the 45th Division. In September 1940, the division was nationalized, and MG Key was responsible for training the 45th and he additionally became the Ft. Sill Post Commander. In October 1942, Key was not to have the honor of commanding the 45th Infantry Division in combat as he was reassigned to be the Provost Marshal General of the US Army (Europe) where he established the School for the Military Police.

In June 1943, Key became the Commanding General Iceland Base Command and in in January 1945, CG US Forces Hungary, and Chief US Representative Allied Control Commission for Hungary. After his military retirement MG Key continued his business, civic, and historic preservation involvement with Oklahoma City and the State.

Among the military awards Major General Key received was the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and the British Knight of the Order of the Bath. MG William S. Key, died on 5 January 1959, age 69, and is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery, Oklahoma City.