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Lewis I. Keene

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Lewis I. Keene, 85, a retired Associate Member, died Feb. 13, 2019. A memorial service was held Feb. 23 at Christ UMC in Baltimore. The Rev. Twanda Prioleau officiated. Clergy from the ecumenical community participated: the Revs. Norman Horn, Bruce Foster, Regina Sewell, Arnold Anthony, and colleagues William Butler, Herbert Watson, Bernard Keel, Clarence Davis, LaReesa Smith-Horn and Mark Groover.

Lewis Irvin Keene was born July 5, 1933, to the late Ivey and Birdie Keene in Baltimore, the youngest of three sons. He was educated in the segregated Baltimore City Schools system, graduating from Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior H. S. in 1954. He left Morgan State Univ. after two years to work at the Old City hospital as a supply clerk secretary. He stayed there for eight years, then transferred to Social Services of the State of Maryland where he was a dedicated caseworker until his early retirement to pursue ministry.

He and Frances Laughlin were married in 1976, after a courtship that spanned New Jersey and Baltimore. They had one son, Jamin-hill who survives.

He heard God’s call to ministry while serving at Christ UMC as the Youth Director. He graduated with honors from Morgan State University in 1979, then went to Howard University School of Divinity for his Master of Divinity. In 1980 Lewis became the pastor at Milton Ave. UMC for 10 years.

He took a leave of absence in 1990 and worked as church secretary and as a summer camp teacher at Christ UMC. In 1992, he became pastor of St. Luke UMC in the Sandtown-Winchester area of Baltimore where he pastored for 10 years until his retirement in 2002. One of his ministries was the founding of the Black Heritage Singers, now called the Lewis I. Keene Black Heritage Singers.

After retirement he continued involvement with parishioners, relatives and friends who needed attention, or serving Communion to shut-ins. He was active with United Methodist Men, Secretary of the First Friday Nighters (ministers and their mates), as founder of the acapella Heritage Choir of Christ UMC, and on the staff as a minister there.

In addition to community service, Keene had many hobbies and interests from cooking and playing piano, to fishing and auto mechanics. He cooked nearly every day for his family. He was a good bowler and an avid reader. He loved travel with his family, both in the U.S. and abroad. They took several cruises. A highlight was the trip he and Frances took to Jerusalem.

His brothers Lawrence and Howard preceded him in death.

Survivors include his wife and their son, Jamin-hill Keene of California. Also surviving are a special cousin Elizabeth Carter, five nieces and nephews, two aunts, two godchildren, and many grand-nieces and -nephews, cousins and friends.

Condolences may be sent to Frances L. Keene, 1904 Northbourne Road, Baltimore, MD 21239.