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Keeney, William E. (1922-2006)

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Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 2006 Nov 27 p. 7

Birth date: 1922 Jul 17

text of obituary:

Former Bluffton, Bethel professor dies

By Mennonite Weekly Review staff

BLUFFTON, Ohio — William E. Keeney, a retired professor at Bluffton University and Bethel College in North Newton, Kan., known for his devotion to peacemaking, died Nov. 12. He was 84.

Keeney served at Bluffton from 1953 to 1967 and at Bethel from 1968 to 1981 in several teaching and administrative roles.

His early life was "a great up-by-the-bootstraps story," according to Mennonite historian and former Bluffton president Robert Kreider of North Newton.

Raised in a Pennsylvania coal mining family, Keeney came to the Mennonite church after a faith journey that included enrolling at Bluffton in 1941 and becoming interested in peace issues during World War II. In 1942, Keeney applied for conscientious objector status and later entered Civilian Public Service.

Keeney graduated from Bluffton with a bachelor's degree in 1948. He graduated from Mennonite and Bethany Biblical Seminaries in 1953 and from Hartford Theological Seminary, where he earned a doctorate in 1959. He also attended summer school at Bethel in 1947 and at Garrett Biblical Institute in 1951.

Keeney william.jpg
At Bluffton, Keeney was assistant to the president and a Bible instructor from 1953 to 1956. He was a professor of Bible at Bluffton from 1958 to 1967.

In 1968, he became academic dean at Bethel, serving until 1972, when he became provost, serving until 1974. From 1975 to 1979, he was director of experiential learning and continuing education at Bethel and director of continuing education, contract degrees and peace internships from 1979 to 1981. After leaving Bethel, he taught at Kent State University until his retirement in 1990.

Keeney served with Mennonite Central Committee in West Germany and the Netherlands from 1948 to 1950 and in the Netherlands from 1961 to 1963.

He wrote or edited seven books and numerous articles on peacemaking and religion, including The Development of Dutch Anabaptist Thought and Practice from 1539-1564, published in 1968, and The Writings of Dirk Philips, edited with C. J. Dyck and Alvin J. Beachy and published in 1992. He translated Dirk Philips: Friend and Colleague of Menno Simons, 1504-1568 by Jacobus Ten Doornkaat Koolman.

Born July 17, 1922, in Fayette County, Pa., the son of William L. and Kathryn Echard Keeney, he married Willadene Hartzler on Oct. 12, 1947.

Survivors include his wife; two sons, William of West Chester, Pa., and Richard of Phoenix, Ariz.; two daughters, Lois Palmer of North Newton, Kan., and Carol Keeney of Elkhart, Ind.; four sisters, Elizabeth Hill of Mount Carmel, Conn., Joan Ritschie of English, Ind., Marion Keeney of Newton, Kan., and Martha Thorpe of Hagerstown, Md.; and six grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a sister, Eleanor Myers.

A memorial service was held Nov. 18 at First Mennonite Church.

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