Roy Leonard Keim (83) of Huntsville, Texas, passed away at his home on January 31. Roy is survived by his wife, Shirley, and six children (Daniel, Danelle, Sherrie, Sharon, Linda, and Nadine). He is also survived by fourteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Born October 13, 1932, to Simeon and Katherine Keim of Grainger, Alberta, Canada, Roy was one of eleven children. He was a child of immigrant parents from the old country, and his first language was German. But his skills in that language did not last long. At an early age, Roy immigrated with his parents to Galt, California. He sometimes spoke with fondness of his childhood years, playing in the nearby orchards with his friends and siblings.
Roy graduated from Galt High School. In 1955 he joined the Army and served two years active duty as a medical specialist, followed by six years with the National Guard. During this time, he married his sweetheart, Shirley Cummings, and continued his education. He attended universities in Missouri, Michigan, California, and Kansas, ultimately graduating with a master’s degree in education. Roy also attended Midwest Bible College in Stanberry, Missouri, where he received his credentials as pastor for the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day). Over the years, Roy used his credentials well, serving as a teacher and pastor in many states and in Canada.
Roy was the quintessential Renaissance man. He possessed many talents, always using them in service to others. An avid gardener, Roy always kept his family (and many others) well supplied with homegrown fruits and vegetables. His apiculture (beekeeping) skills garnered him the role of county agent for Michigan’s Shiawassee County beekeepers.
If Roy had a hobby, it was his interest in numbers. As a math teacher, he loved to share the mysteries and patterns of numbers with his students. He loved reading about and exploring the mathematical beauty of numbers in God’s creation and in Scripture. In his sermons, it wasn’t unusual to hear Roy slip in the topic of numbers. The same can be said about bees.
Over the years, Roy wore many hats: husband, father, pastor, youth camp director, bus driver, Walmart deli manager, painter, remodeler, mechanic, landscaper, contractor, and inventor. There is no question, however, that Roy was best known and loved for his dedication and service to the students of Spring Vale Academy. Over many years there he served as teacher, drivers training instructor, boys dean, cook, principal, and facilities engineer. Dean Stucker, his son-in-law through his oldest daughter, Danelle, reminisces: “I’ll never forget when, in the summer of 1996, Danelle and I came to SVA to visit and help Roy dig the new sewage lagoon. Roy and I walked to the hill behind the school, where he pointed to the hill and said, ‘See that? By the end of this week, that hill will be removed and we’ll have our lagoon. Oh, and over there we’ll have a dam for our new lake.’ Stunned, I swallowed hard and kept my opinion to myself. Needless to say, I was wrong.”
After the Spring Vale years, Roy and Shirley moved several times, always living near — and a few times with — one of their children before settling down in Huntsville, Texas. Roy wore out several cars, travelling across the country many times over and keeping in touch with his children, who always loved having them drop by. The occasional family reunions were a joy for him.
Always the picture of perfect health, Roy wasn’t shy about sharing how he had never gone to the doctor’s office. Finally, in March 2005, Roy darkened the doors of a hospital — as a patient — when he wrecked his beautiful, shiny red (used, of course) Cadillac. But that didn’t slow him down. Three years later, however, Roy’s record of near-perfect health ended when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Major surgery was required, and many prayers were offered. To the doctors’ amazement, Roy made a full recovery. After that, eating a meal was never the fun it used to be; but still, for his age, Roy remained physically fit and in reasonably good health.
As happens with everyone, the years finally caught up with Roy. During his final Thanksgiving week, it became clear that time was taking its toll on him. Dean shares Roy’s opinion on the matter this way: “I took Roy to the doctor’s office to better understand the recent downturn in his health. The doctor was kind but candid, explaining how the spontaneous cirrhosis of the liver (due to unknown causes) was affecting his health. We all laughed when he responded with, ‘Yeah, but I don’t like it!’”
Roy’s life was one of service to his family, friends, country, and faith. Because of him, the world is a better place. Thousands of lives have been touched by the legacy of this gentle man. We have been blessed by him. May we now pass that blessing on to others in celebration of his long and fruitful life.