Russell E. Keel, 1931-2021, Gene, a lifelong resident of West Jefferson, Ohio passed away at Friendship Village of Dublin on Wednesday, December 29, 2021.
Preceded in death by his wife of 54 years Doris Keel, Parents Russell “Scotty” and Emaline Keel, sister Marlene Hunter, niece Kim Londos and nephew Chris Hunter.
Survived by children Jeanne (Anthony) Joseph, Joe (Susan) Keel, Julie (Jack) Alcott, and John (Julie) Keel. Grandchildren Andrew (Kristine), Angie, Erin and Evan Rogers, Michael and Ryan Keel, Josh (Amanda) and Jamie Alcott, Davis, Meredith and Morgan Keel. Great Grandchildren Zella and Rory Alcott, Sadie Keel, and Emmeline Rogers. Nephew Brad (Tricia) Hunter and family, and many cousins.
Gene graduated from West Jefferson High School in 1949 and Otterbein College in 1953 where he met the love of his life, Doris Ann McCracken, who he married in 1954. Gene is a veteran of the US Navy and served during the Korean war. In 1955, he started a 34 year career with Jefferson Local Schools. During his tenure, he earned a Master's degree from Wittenberg University, was a teacher, coach, guidance counselor, and athletic director. He was best known as the head football coach and for starting the great tradition of Roughrider Football. During his 22 consecutive winning seasons, his teams earned three state titles and 13 conference championships while amassing 157 wins and 40 losses. As a result of his storied career he was inducted into the Ohio Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1984.
From 1987-2010 he served as an assistant coach at Capital University, Chillicothe, Hilliard, Teays Valley with a final stop at West Jefferson to culminate 50 years of coaching. During his football legacy, he impacted thousands of young men. He earned titles like Coach, Tiger, The Silver Fox and That Gray Haired SOB just to name a few. However, the titles he was most proud of were Husband, Dad and Gramps.
Gene’s other interests included working out, singing and playing his ukulele, dancing, history, traveling and his boxer dogs. He was a member of the West Jefferson United Methodist Church, the American Legion, VFW, Kiwanis and the West Jefferson and Otterbein Athletic Hall of Fame. He was also one of the founding members of the West Jeff Athletic Boosters and a member of the Columbus Maennerchor.
A special thank you to the staff of Friendship Village of Dublin and Capital City Hospice. A memorial service will be held at the Makoy Center, 5462 Center Street, Hilliard, Ohio on Friday, January 7, 2022 from 2:00-3:00pm. Immediately following the service there will be a Celebration of Life from 3:00-6:00pm. Covid protocols are requested and masks recommended. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the West Jefferson Athletic Boosters at 1 Roughrider Dr. West Jefferson, Ohio 43162 or the Madison County Humane Society at 2020 OH-142 NE, West Jefferson, Ohio 43162.