Samuel Charles Keiter1931 ~ 2020 (age 88)
Samuel Charles Keiter died January 8th at Buckingham's Choice, the retirement community where he had lived for the past 20 years.
Sam was born to Herman and Dorothy (Henne) Keiter in March, 1931, at the hospital of the University of Chicago, where his father, an ordained Lutheran minister, was completing his PhD in education.
In 1936 the family moved to Oneonta, NY, where his father had become a professor at Hartwick College. He went on to Oneonta High School, graduating in 1948 as valedictorian. He attended Carleton College in Minnesota, graduating in 1952 with a degree in Government and International Relations. Following graduation he spent a year in Denmark as a Fulbright Scholar. He earned a master's degree in Middle East studies, including studying Arabic, at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. (now affiliated with Johns Hopkins University).
He was a Ford Foundation Fellow in 1955-56, based in Cairo, Egypt, and traveled from Tehran, Iran to Casablanca, Morocco, including stops in Israel and Sudan. A high point was two weeks spent with an Egyptian family in a village near Luxor, Egypt.
In 1957 Sam became a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. He was also drafted into the U.S. Army where he served for two years in the Carolinas and Georgia, as an economic specialist, before taking up his position with the Foreign Service.
Sam's Foreign Service career was almost evenly divided between Washington and overseas posts. He spent seven consecutive years in Tunisia and Libya, from 1962 to 1969. The first four were as an Economic Officer in Tunisia, which was reveling in its early years of Independence under Habib Bourguiba. The last three were as Principal Officer of the U.S. Embassy Office in Baida, Libya, near the Greek ruins at Cyrene. King Idris was building a new capital there, and Sam served as the embassy's contact with the Foreign Ministry, as well as interpreter for the U.S. Ambassador's meetings with the King, who avoided Tripoli, the existing capital.
The 6-day war broke out between Israel and the Arabs in 1969, and Sam had to return to post from leave in Greece. At one point he removed a bomb from the Office's Library, put it in the street, and called the gendarmerie, which took it away and detonated it.
Sam left Libya in July, 1969, and Col. Qaddafi seized power in September. As Sam had predicted, the Eastern Province (Cyrenaican) tribes did not rise up to protect the King, who went into exile in Egypt.
After three years in the Office of Southern African Affairs in Washington, Sam was assigned to the American Embassy in Burundi as DCM (Deputy Chief of Mission). He arrived shortly after a massacre of the majority, but less powerful, Hutu by Tutsis. The Embassy estimated deaths at 100,000, out of a total population of 4 million. The massacre was the most important political fact throughout Sam's stay.
Following the massacre, the U.S. provided food aid in Burundi, particularly for mother/child clinics. Catholic Relief Services, responsible for distribution of the food aid, sent nurse Dolores Deveau to Burundi to visit the clinics and make sure the food was being used appropriately. She and Sam married in April 1975.
Sam was assigned to the State Department's Office of Aviation in 1975. From 1977 to 1981 he was the U.S. Civil Aviation Attaché in London. After a year at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), he returned to the Office of Aviation, becoming Chief of the Aviation Negotiations Division. As such he headed several negotiation teams, including one to Moscow that re-established direct flights between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
In 1986 Sam retired from the Foreign Service, and joined Kurth and Co., an aviation consulting company that focused on economic issues. His portfolio expanded from international aviation issues, such as persuading airlines to provide service from foreign points to U.S. Airports, to more general economic analysis. When Mr. Kurth died, Sam took on many of his responsibilities. While Kurth & Co. tackled many issues, its primary focus was helping U.S. airports attract more air service. Its greatest success during Sam's stay was helping Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) persuade Southwest Airlines to provide service, an essential element in BWI's success in subsequent decades. Sam retired from Kurth and Co.in 1999.
Dolores and Sam moved to Buckingham's Choice retirement community in Frederick, MD, in 2000. Sam was active in the Residents' Association for 14 years, serving as the first Treasurer, first Chair of the Finance Committee, and fourth President. He strove to have the BC residents treated as the stakeholders they are.
With that same objective, he was active in MaCCRA (Maryland Continuing Care Residents Association) beginning in 2008. He was one of two Maryland CCRC residents on the 2009-10 Continuing Care Advisory Committee convened by the Maryland Department of Aging. By 2012 he was Chair of MaCCRA's Legislative Committee, and was instrumental in that year's legislation implementing some of the CCAC's recommendations.
Sam was passionate about both bridge and tennis, winning trophies in both. He loved to sing; his children remember that he sang them a song every night at bedtime when they were small, and he continued to sing in barbershop & other groups after his retirement. He was a devoted fan of the Chicago White Sox, cheering them on during decades of disappointing results, and was thrilled when they finally won the World Series in 2005.
In addition to his wife Dolores, he leaves three children, Deborah Keiter Moore (and husband Chris), Timothy S. Keiter (and wife Kay) and Christopher F. Keiter (and wife Betsy), all of Maine; seven grandchildren; three sisters: Margaret Wales, Mary McCarty, and Miriam Solloway (and husband Fred); one great-grandson, who was born in September; and many nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life has been scheduled for 2:00pm on Saturday, February 8, 2020. The family invites friends and family to join them in the multipurpose room at Buckingham's Choice, 3200 Baker Circle, Adamstown, MD.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity
622 N Market Street, Frederick MD 21701