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LARRY G. KEETER was a Spindale native, a gifted teacher, ASU professor emeritus, and former Mayor of Boone. He was professor of sociology at Appalachian State University, at Campbell University, and at Emerson College, Massachusetts, as well as faculty exchange professor at the University of Ireland in Dublin. He wrote popular and scholarly articles on a variety of issues in sociology, minority relations, and religion, and produced DVD/videos on Max Weber, which were distributed by the American Sociological Association. Dr. Keeter served as President of the North Carolina Sociological Association and in various offices and committees of the Southern Sociological Association, and of the Popular Culture Association, including Chair of the Elvis section. He was an active member of First Baptist Church, serving as Sunday School teacher and Deacon.
Dr. Keeter was a graduate of Berea College with a major in philosophy and psychology and was the recipient of fellowships at Columbia University (National Woodrow Wilson Fellow), Harvard University (Hopkins Share), where he served as Baptist chaplain, and Boston University (Rockefeller Scholar), which granted his PH.D. While completing his Ph.D.., he was pastor of the Congregational Church (UCC) in Winchester, Massachusetts, where both of his children were born. As a graduate student, Keeter participated in the March on Washington, served as a counselor in the Billy Graham Evangelism Campaign at Harvard University, participated in the Student Vigil at the Lincoln Memorial (on his honeymoon) in support of the Civil Rights Act; and as a pastor, in the Poor Peoples’ Campaign in Washington, and in the School of Evangelism in the Billy Graham Crusade at Madison Square Gardens.
Dr. Keeter received summer faculty fellowships with NASA in Langley, Virginia; the National Endowment for the Arts at University of Berkeley, California; and the USIA Program in Poland. As a sociology professor, he was very active with the ASU’s off-campus sites at the New York Loft (led over 50 ASU student programs) and at the App House in DC (led over 30 ASU student programs); as well as Elvis student programs and Elvis Week in Memphis; at the King and Carter Centers in Atlanta; and the ASU Summer Study Abroad Program ( led 5 ASU student programs to Europe); all these trips giving students immersive experience in on-the-hoof sociological study. He always thought “outside the box.” He enjoyed the theater in New York, Dublin, London, ASU, Barter, and Lees-McRae College, He was a founding member of the Elderhostel Program at ASU. Throughout, Keeter chose to be an educator, not an administrator, serving in the classroom for his entire academic career. He declined with gratitude all administrative offices. He was not consumed by ambition but had a passion for teaching. His career Philosophy was, “Do what you love to do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Keeter was the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the University Trustee Teaching Award, the College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Award, the Alumni Teaching Award, and the Student Government Association Teaching Award, of which he was most proud.
Dr. Keeter’s university and community service included six years on the Faculty Senate, three years as the Chair; nine years as a founding delegate to the University of North Carolina Faculty Assembly; and eight year in the Boone Town Government, a four-year term on Town Council and then two terms as the first ASU Professor elected Mayor of Boone, retiring undefeated. As a Town Council Member and as Mayor, he was instrumental in establishing the Town Manager system and the Office of Town Planner, the zoning and sign ordinances, the Greenway Trail, the Comprehensive Plan, the AppleCart, the Jones House, annexation, ABC control, the “Mayor’s Report” on local radio and TV, and the Town Council meeting on Cable vision. He declined gratefully the opportunity to be a Watauga County Commissioner.
Inducted into the WataugaDems Hall of Fame, this high honor stated: “Larry’s two terms as Mayor was known as a progressive period for the Town of Boone – the Jones House purchase, the funding of AppleCart, the important sign ordinance (which reformed the cluttered and occluded look of Boone). During Larry’s town service, Len Hagaman – who became Sheriff – served as Town Manager. What you may not know about Larry: In the mid – 1990s, he spearheaded the effort to place a memorial to the German professor Max Weber (known as one of the ‘Fathers of Sociology’) at the Mount Airy house where Weber visited his relatives in 1904.”
Dr. Keeter is survived by his wife and love of his life, Ann Keeter, in Boone; a daughter, Dr. Laura Keeter and husband, Dr. Grant Fletcher in Seattle, Washington; and artist son, Kyle Keeter in Boone. He was preceded in death by his sister, Lola Kay Collins, his brother, William Claude Keeter, his father William Eugene Keeter and mother, Lola Crotts Keeter all of Spindale, NC. He was a romantic husband, a devoted dad-and he vacuumed.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First Baptist Church, Audio-Visual Division; or to ASU Off-Campus Sites or to the ASU International Studies Program.
The above obituary was written by Larry Keeter.
Memorial services for Larry Keeter will be conducted Sunday afternoon, February 4, 2024, at 3 PM at First Baptist Church of Boone, officiated by Rev. Roy Dobyns and Dr. Alan Hauser. A reception will follow services in the church fellowship hall.
Online condolences may be shared at the website www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com
Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Keeter family.