McClellandtown, Pennsylvania is a small township nestled in the heart of a coal mining town in Southwestern Pennsylvania. There aren’t too many things of importance that take place in this sleepy little village. That all changed on Monday, October 18, 1937, when a healthy, handsome, bouncing baby boy was born in the local hospital to Sylvester and Edna Keith. They named their son, Dennis Collins Keith.
A happy and responsible child, Dennis was the oldest of four children. His siblings; Sylvester Jr., Carol and Frederick looked up to him and dutifully followed his direction. To Sylvester and Carol he was the older and wiser brother that made sure his siblings were protected. Freddie, being so much younger, saw Dennis as his example and would proudly say when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” He would respond, “Like Big time Dennis!”
Dennis left the metropolis of McClellandtown with his parents when they moved across the state to Pine Forge, Pennsylvania. There, he attended Pine Forge Elementary School and all four years at Pine Forge Institute (Academy).
Dennis was eager to continue his college education. He applied and was accepted at Oakwood College (University) in Huntsville, Alabama. While he enjoyed his time at ‘The Oaks’, Dennis later returned north and graduated from Columbia Union College (Washington Adventist University) in Takoma Park, MD with a BA in Business Administration. A thirst for knowledge led Dennis to earn a Master’s in Business Administration from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan and he continued his Post Graduate studies at California Coast University in Santa Ana, California.
The year was 1957 when Dennis met the woman that would change the trajectory of his life. Dorothy Glenn was a student at Pine Forge Academy when she met the handsome, debonair, 6 foot, chocolate man of her dreams. Immediately, she recognized the kind, gentle, decisive and strong fella in the person of Dennis Keith. Dorothy was smitten. Dennis was love-struck. They were married on June 12, 1960. It didn’t take long before the ‘D’ team was formed. In the ensuing years, three children were born of their union; Dennis Jr., Denise and Dwan. Dennis and Dorothy spent 57 unforgettable years together!
Roller skating, bowling and golfing were his favorite activities. Dennis also loved cars, old or new. He dreamed of purchasing a 1956 Chevy. In celebration of their 25th Wedding Anniversary, Dennis came close to realizing that dream when he acquired a fire engine red 1957 Chevy.
Dorothy honored and respected her husband. There was nothing they couldn’t handle together. Over the years, Dennis came to anticipate Dorothy’s ability to surprise him. When birthdays or anniversaries came around Dennis could be sure that Dorothy had a well-planned party or trip on her radar. One notable year Dennis arrived at their pitch-black house only to find dozens of people yelling, “surprise.” At other times Dorothy would coax him into packing his suitcase with both warm and cool clothes, to drive his anticipation of their next destination. Often it was a surprise cruise or a flight to an unknown location. Each adventure left not only an indelible memory but a softer spot in his heart for the woman he called his wife, his life-partner, his soul-mate.
Traveling the world, Dennis and Dorothy lived a life few could ever imagine. He began his professional career as Assistant Treasurer at the Allegheny East Conference in Pine Forge, PA. Dennis later accepted a call to the Riverside Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee to serve as the Hospital Chief Accountant. In 1967, Dennis, Dorothy and their young children traveled by freighter for eighteen days by way of Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone, West Africa where he fulfilled the duties of treasurer of the Sierra Leone Mission. The family made Sierra Leone their home for nine years before moving to Seoul, Korea where Dennis served as treasurer of the Korean Union Mission for three and a half years.
In 1997, the family returned to the United States and settled in the Atlanta, Georgia area where Dennis worked as a Staff Auditor for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. His diligent eye to detail caused numerous church organizations to recruit his skills. He served as treasurer in the Lake Region and Allegheny West Conferences. Oakwood College (University) engaged him as their Vice President of Financial Affairs. In 1995, Dennis accepted the invitation to the General Conference World Head Quarters of SDA in Silver Spring, MD to serve as Associate Treasurer. His responsibilities carried him to four world division headquarters: West-Central Africa Division, Africa; Southern Asia Division, India; South Pacific Division, Australia; and Euro-Asia Division, Russia.
Dennis retired from the Treasury Department at the General Conference in July 2005, after more than forty years of denominational work.
Dennis leaves to mourn his loss his devoted and beloved wife, Dorothy of Frederick MD; his son, Dennis Jr. of Chicago, IL; daughters Denise Williams (Robert) of Birchwood, TN; and Dwan Keith of Germantown, MD. He is also survived by five grandchildren; Asheena Keith, MD, Amelia Keith, Robert Williams Jr., Nathaniel Williams and Dalin Williams. Three great-grandchildren; Alina Williams, Timothy Williams, Malachi Williams. Three siblings; his brother, Sylvester Keith Jr, Bronx, NY; his only sister, Carol Wallington of Columbia MD and his youngest brother, Frederick Keith (Joyce) of Houston, TX. His loving in-laws; brother-in-law Earl Glenn of Oakland CA; sister-in-law Pearl Glenn of Grand Rapids, MI; brother-in-law Gerald Glenn (Charlie) of Manteca, CA; Esther Lowe (James) of Grand Rapids, MI; and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins.