Robert Larry Keele

Robert (Bob) Larry Keele, long-time political science professor and former Dean of the College at the University of the South: Sewanee, died on Saturday, November 25.

Bob was born in Manchester, TN, on May 16, 1934 to the Hon. Robert Levi Keele and Amarilla Sullivan Keele. He attended The University of the South: Sewanee, graduating in 1956 with a degree in political science. He continued his studies at Emory University, earning a Ph.D. in 1960.

This was followed by a year spent as a Rotary Foundation Fellow in Manchester, England. There, he spoke to English Rotary clubs about American politics and attended classes at the University of Manchester. This time abroad instilled in him the love of travel. Eventually he spent time in all 50 states, visited almost every presidential library, and many foreign countries. Upon his return from England in 1961, his former Sewanee professors invited him to join the faculty to teach political science, with an emphasis on constitutional law. Many of his students, who affectionately called him “Rapid Robert” as a nod to the speed of his lectures, went on to law school.

Bob taught in the political science department for 42 years, retiring in 2003. He was named dean of the College, a position he held from 1991-1999. He served as a faculty trustee for six years and was a member of the Red Ribbon Society.

He also served the wider community on the boards of both People’s Bank of Manchester, TN (37 years) and the Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (18 years).

As a long-time Episcopalian, he was a member of Otey Memorial Parish. There he served several terms on the vestry and was a member of rector search committees. He was active in community organizations such as the Sewanee Senior Center and the Sewanee Community Chest.

Bob married the former Karen Schwantes in Sewanee on March 22, 1965. Karen had come to Sewanee to visit her sister, Leah Rhys, who was married to Brinley Rhys, a faculty member in the English department.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents; his step-mother, Anne Majors Keele; sisters, Ama Hodges and Polly Klipfel; and his son, Robert Sullivan Keele.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Karen, of Sewanee; his daughter, Laura Quinn (Peter) of Bainbridge Island, WA; and grandchildren, Tyler (Colbey), Sully, Dylan, Connor, and Kensie.

The funeral service will be held on Saturday, December 9, at 11:00 at All Saints Chapel, followed by a reception in Convocation Hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Robert L. Keele Scholarship Fund at the University of the South: Sewanee, or to Otey Memorial Parish in Sewanee.