Donald A. Keene
Feb 4th 1941 - Jul 21st 2009
Donald Keene was a devoted husband and father who lived each day to love and care for his beloved family. He was a man of strong faith that was not only the cornerstone on which he based his every thought, word, and deed, but was also one of his greatest sources of strength that sustained him throughout both the easy and hard times during his life. Although he was quiet by nature, Don could light up a room with his funny antics and great sense of humor.
In the winter of 1941, Paul and Erma (Molda) Keene, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, were thrilled with the birth of their son. Born as the middle of five children in his family, Donald was outgoing and personable right from his earliest days. He enjoyed an active childhood, involved in various activities through the local YMCA, and starred in several junior civic plays locally as well. Donald's father supported his active family as a semi-truck driver and his mother, as a hairdresser. Don attended Kalamazoo schools and graduated from Kalamazoo Central in 1959.
Don's career was always within the automobile industry in one way or another. A mechanic by trade, Don's first job was for Don Seelye Ford, followed by a career at General Motors for seventeen years. He eventually worked for Ryder Truck Rental where he remained until he retired at the age of sixty-two.
While he was busy building his career, Don was blessed with joy beyond measure when he became both a husband and a father. The year was 1963, and Don went to the Schwartz Drive-In with a buddy, where he met a delightful young woman who would forever hold a place in his heart. Her name was Karen Summers, and Don noticed her right away- he even tried to pick her up, but she initially turned him down. Lucky for Don, she did give him her phone number. After a short time of dating, the couple fell deeply in love and were married just three months later on April 8, 1963. Don was a doting father too, and was blessed with the births of three children: Michelle, Paul "Jake," and Trina. They, along with his wife, were truly the loves of his life.
The Keene family made numerous precious memories together over the years. One of their favorite times was "discovered" quite by accident. Living during the cold Michigan winters can get trying at times. One year, Don and Karen declared that they would be driving south until they hit the ocean and seventy-degree weather. They ended up in Kure Beach, North Carolina, where their family continued to vacation and make treasured memories every year for over fifteen years.
When he was blessed with leisure time, Don enjoyed pursuing a variety of interests. As an adult, he became an avid paddleball and racquetball player, and enjoyed riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Don was a genuine "Mr. Fix-It" who liked taking on projects in his own home. In fact, he and Karen purchased their home thirty-six years ago, and he gradually spent his time fixing it up to suit their own needs, even tackling the plumbing and electric himself. In the end, he took a house that was hardly even livable, and turned it into a reflection of their way of life, but also a haven where his family shared many years of laughter and love. When his family grew to include grandchildren, they quickly became Don's greatest joy and he loved surrounding himself with these young ones as often as he could.
One of the things Don will be remembered for was his love of Old Milwaukee beer paraphernalia, of which he amassed a wonderful and vast collection. It was also the only beer he would drink.
Faith played an important role in Don's life, as it was a source of peace, fulfillment, and strength. He and Karen faithfully attended Centre Avenue Church of God where they enjoyed the friendships of fellow believers. When he was plagued with esophageal cancer that spread to bone cancer over the past two years, it was Don's faith that sustained him while he endured the fight of his life. Don valiantly fought his illness. He never complained and never allowed his disease to interfere with his family activities. Sadly, his body eventually succumbed to the fight while he was surrounded by his loving family.
There are some people who live such extraordinary lives, and are such exceptional people, that it can be difficult to summarize so many years, so much love, and such vast amounts of integrity, compassion, and strength. Donald Keene embraced each day he was given and made it his own, weaving together a rich tapestry of memories that will be forever treasured by all those who were blessed enough to have known him. Don lived out his days with zest and vibrancy, cherishing his faith and encompassing a love for the Lord that knew no bounds. Although his death leaves an unending chasm in the hearts and lives of his friends and family, they rejoice in the knowledge that Don is no longer fighting, but enjoying walking hand-in-hand with his Creator.
Donald A. Keene of Kalamazoo died surrounded by his family at Rose Arbor Hospice on July 21, 2009. Members of Don's family include his wife Karen, his children and their spouses; Michelle (Al) Andrews, Paul "Jake" (Brooke) Keene, Trina (Dave) Droste, his grandchildren; Rob and Greg Andrews; Jennifer, Ivan and Jack Loviska; Emily, Nick and Noelle Keene, his sister; Pat (Bill) Mills, his brothers; Norman (Elaine) Keene, Dave (Barb) Keene, and many nieces and nephews. Don was preceded in death by his brother Jim Keene. Visit with his family and friends and share light refreshments on Friday from 4:00-7:00 at Life Story Funeral Home, Plainwell; 120 S. Woodhams (685-5881). A funeral will be held on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at the same location. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com, where you can archive a memory or photo, sign his memory book online before coming to the funeral home, or make a memorial donation to the West Michigan Cancer Center.