James Keith Obituary (1935-2021) – Greensboro, NC
Keith, Jr., James “Jim” French
January 7, 1935 – August 4, 2021
James “Jim” French Keith, Jr., 86, is a man of quiet reflection and endless compassion and left this life on August 4, 2021, peacefully. He was born on January 7, 1935 in Asheville, NC, the first child of the deceased James French Keith and Sarah Grace Stamey Keith. Jim’s gifts were rooted in his belief in God, his love for people, and his work in service learning and higher education.
Jim received his AB degree in Sociology from Wheaton College. He earned an MA in Sociology and Psychology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a PhD in higher education from the University of Georgia. Jim’s career as an educator began in Atlanta, where he also met his wife Sue. In 1973, Jim accepted an invitation to serve on the faculty at Westmont College, California as Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Director of the Urban Semester off campus in San Francisco. Shortly afterwards Sue joined him. Jim’s work as Director of the Urban Program was the work he dedicated the rest of his life to providing experiential teaching with small circles of college students who broaden minds and change the world through small and large service and helping students find meaningful careers to design . Jim and Sue also became parents during their time in San Francisco. Three hearted daughters were also raised by college students and a diverse community that quickly became families.
In 1981 Jim and his family returned to the East Coast and moved to Greensboro, NC, where Jim served as Associate Dean of Students, Director of Experiential Learning, Director of Career Development and Placement, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Sociology at Guilford College for a period of 12 years. Again, Keith’s house was filled with coworkers and college students every weekday, as Jim’s commitment to service and learning extended well beyond a classroom or position. After retiring from Guilford, Jim served as Program Officer for the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, where he helped develop service learning programs for college programs across the country. This work led Jim to create an independent advisory service, Learning by Design, for a variety of communities including churches, universities, and nonprofits to deepen his commitment to service on many levels.
Jim enjoyed a long conversation, listened carefully, rummaged through antique shops, set quaint place settings at his dining room table before meeting with loved ones, and watched people find their own way in this world. He loved bringing people together and spending time with family. During his many years in Greensboro, Jim promoted his parishes at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and All Saints Episcopal Church, where he offered his gifts in a variety of ways and made lifelong friends. He also loved volunteering with countless organizations, including educational organizations, who valued his wisdom and experience. On site, Jim donated his heart to the Greensboro Housing Coalition, the Triad Health Project’s Higher Ground, and many other nonprofits that helped improve the lives of those in trouble.
Jim paid attention to the little things and found great value in what God had called him to share a book, give away a piece of jewelry, communicate his daily joys through a crooked smile of amusement, connect people in their travels, that Live of . to shape countless young people, and to be a permanent light for others. He loved so much that throughout his life he has shown others how to honor, respect, validate and value oneself and one another.
Among those he remembered are his beloved wife Sue, who was 46 years old; his daughter Emily Keith and partner Trace Harris of Portland, OR; his daughter Sarah Keith Chowning (Jeff Chowning) of Greensboro, NC; Granddaughters Amanda and Megan Chowning of Greensboro, NC; and brother William “Bill” Riley Keith (Lynda Keith) of Asheville, NC, along with countless dear friends and former students.
Jim had preceded his daughter Anna Elizabeth Keith Rose in death earlier this year.
A private service in the Holy Trinity Labyrinth is planned by the family. The family deeply values your prayers, love, and support.
Memorial donations can be made to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 607 N. Greene Street, Greensboro, NC 27401, Greensboro Housing Coalition, 1031 Summit Avenue Suite 1E-2, Greensboro, NC 27405, or the Triad Health Project, 801 Summit Avenue, Greensboro, NC27405.
Online condolences at www.haneslineberryfhnorthelm.com
Published by Greensboro News & Record on August 8, 2021.