I met Keith in the Spring of 1988 at UCLA. He was rowing crew a lot then, but we had lots of fun. We became good friends in the fall of '88 when we both moved into the house together. Keith and I had a great time in college. While we were "fraternity brothers," I can tell you he was much more special to me. Having no brothers, just two sisters (just like Keith), he was like a brother I never had growing up. While he always maintained his strong, "tough," exterior, he was a person I could talk to about anything. And he was understanding, empathetic, and reassuring. He was truly an important presence in my life. I miss him very much.
I got the phone call about his fall [Keith's accidental fall from a fire escape] in college at the end of Christmas break and I drove down right away. I know Mike Buckingham was with your Dad, reading to Keith, etc. Believe me, Mike was doing that on behalf of all of Keith's friends. I was very proud of your brother's recovery.
After graduation, we kept in close touch. He visited me in San Francisco. My Dad had a stroke just after college was over and I went home to be with him. My Dad loved talking to Keith when he would visit. My Dad was an NU alum (born and raised in St. Charles) , and Keith was interested in going there at the time. My Dad had lots of college buddies from New Trier, and they talked about all sorts of stuff. My Mom loved Keith very much, and the first time I cried was when I told her and she cried too.
Your brother had an amazing capacity to relate to anyone. His charisma overwhelmed even the surliest of any lot. I visited Keith in Pasadena, and then again in Las Vegas. My visit to Vegas, spring of 1994 I think, was great. Two stories stand out: One night we were in Henderson, where the locals in the know go to game, to play craps. Keith had this key-chain that was a translucent sphere with an eyeball floating inside. The crap game was getting an little boring, people were throwing chips on the table, saying "odds on 6," etc. So Keith throws his keychain on the table and says "eye-ball odds on six." The casino employee looked up at him with the funninest and most astonished look I have ever seen, while the entire table pauses, then erupts in laughter. It was so funny, so perfect, and so Keith. Everytime I see one of those key chains at a gas station or something, I start laughing uncontrollably.
Also, Keith taught me to fly fish on that trip. We drove to the Owens River Valley to fish. He was a fantastic teacher to say the least. I caught my first fish, a rainbow trout, on a royal coachman fly. Keith was especially proud my first fish was on a royal coachman, and he encouraged me to tell everyone if it ever came up. Toward the end of our first day we were fishing in the Owens, wading in waist deep water with reeds on the bank behind us. He was upstream from me and yells, "Hey Richmond, look!" I turned around and there was an otter floating on his back as he passed us. I looked at the otter and he stared directly back into my eyes. All of a sudden he dives straight under the water. I thought the water monster was going to attack me. and I yell "Keith, HELP," and I scurry into the reeds, falling all over myself. Needless to say, the otter was likely more scared of me, but Keith just laughed and always teased me about the killer otter.
I feel very fortunate Keith came to spend the summer in San Francisco to work at Genentech. We hung out at his apartment in the Haight alot. We had alot of fun. I begged him to come back after graduation. We fished, went to dinner, bars, baseball games, etc. I treasure those more recent memories. He is a friend of mine forever, despite the fact we will lose touch for the next 50 or 60 years. No time or space could take away my memories of my friend Keith, or my belief I will see him again in Heaven; our friendship and my love for him are eternal.
I spoke to Keith last in February. We were going to run a marathon together. I wanted to fly back and run "Grandma's" marathon with him in May or June, but Keith was having trouble getting training in (he would only run when it was over 20 degrees outside) (as a California Kid, I don't think I have ever felt air that cold!), so we were going to run the Twin Cities marathon later in the summer.
I have just spent 1/2 an hour at work writing this, and I feel like I haven't even touched the surface of sharing with you how your brother touched my life. He made me feel good about myself for having a friend as cool as him. I will never forget your brother. ever.