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James Keating

On Sunday, December 15, 2013 James Lindley Keating peacefully joined his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, from his home outside Crystal Springs, MS. A memorial service will be held at Stringers Funeral Home in Crystal Springs on Wednesday, December 18, at 11:00 AM, with visitation scheduled to begin at 10:00 AM.  

James was born December 25, 1926, to John Ingram Keating, Sr. and Sadie Elinor Worrell Keating at Sharon, Mississippi.  He was preceded in death by his parents, his older brother Bill, and his twin brother Jack. Last year he lost Reen, his best friend and his devoted wife of 60 years.

At Sharon, the family owned and operated a dairy farm and a country store.  Both were lost in the depression. In 1935 they moved to Crystal Springs and joined with thousands of other vegetable farmers to help the town become “the Tomatopolis of the World.” During this time, James became active in high school sports and was named co-captain of the 1945 Crystal Springs Tigers’ football team. He joined and was an active member of First Baptist Church and his Sunday School class. As a youth, he represented his church in an area speaking contest held in Vicksburg.

After graduating from high school, James was drafted into the United States Army and received Basic Infantry Training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He and his outfit were sent to Japan, where he served until receiving his honorable discharge in December of 1946 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
            James earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Mississippi State College in 1952 and entered the Air Force at Brooks AFB, Texas, in August of that same year. The next year, he was assigned to the Personnel Officer School at Scott AFB, Illinois. Following graduation, he served in Germany, Korea, and Japan. While in Japan, he met 1st Lieutenant Maureen Heath from Goose Creek, Texas. They married a year later. With the multitude of air bases worldwide, James and Reen always felt it was a miracle of the Lord that brought them together at Johnson Air Base in Japan.
            In 1958, Captain Reen Keating left the Air Force to return to teaching. A short time later James received an assignment to the University of Puerto Rico AFROTC. Reen began teaching at Fort Buchanan where they lived. Both received their private pilot and Ham radio licenses that provided much pleasure, travel, and excitement over the next several decades. From there, James was sent to Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, and Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson. While in Arizona, James earned a master’s degree and Rene her second master’s degree.

In 1967 both of them went back into teaching fulltime, and both continued to take classes at the University of North Texas. James completed all requirements for his doctorate except the dissertation. In addition, they moved to Fort Worth and built a house, doing all the work themselves except the foundation, framing, and roofing. After UNT, James served as Assistant Deputy Wing Director of Operations at Strategic Air Command with the 308th Missile Wing at Little Rock AFB.

On June 30, 1971, James retired from the Air Force with the rank of Lt. Colonel and became Associate Professor of Psychology at Tarrant County Junior College where Reen was already well established.

In May of 1996, James, with over 22 years in the military and 25 years teaching at TCJC, and Reen, with 6 years in the Air Force and more than 43 years teaching, retired to their farm in MS. After a year there, they moved to the Baptist Retirement Center in San Angelo, TX, where they remained for nine years. There they were actively involved in voluntary work, including activities of the First Baptist Church and Choir. In 2011 they returned to their farm in Crystal Springs and joined the First Baptist Church.

Their fondest memories were of their miraculous meeting and marriage in 1954 that spanned six decades of love and friendship, the challenges and opportunities awaiting them at the many new assignments, the travel oversees and throughout each of the United States except Alaska. Besides their loving family, they acquired a multitude of lifelong Christian friends who greatly enriched their lives all along the way. They always gave Jesus Christ the honor and glory for their wonderful life together and plan to tell Him face to face “in the sweet bye and bye.”

If inclined and in lieu of flowers, please donate to your church or favorite charity.

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