Dr. Robert L.A. Keeley, born July 11, 1921, second child of Carroll Francis and Nellie Carter Keeley, passed from this life to his eternal home on Sunday, March 16, 2014. Affectionately known as "Pop" or "Papa Keeley", he is survived by his one and only loving wife of 65 years, Nina Braddock; 15 children and spouses: Betsy (Todd) Hobbie, Bob (Barbara), Mary (Bob) Flynn, Anne (Mike) Allison, Tom (Nelle), Pam (Mike) Cassell, John (Marlene), Kathy (Stuart) Sibley, Paula (Mickey) Cash, Daniel (Donna), David (Bonna), Mark (Meg), Chris (Mitzi), Richard, Nina (Joe) Sweeney; 31 grandchildren and spouses: Matthew (Elizabeth) Hobbie, Helen (Dave) Gould, Allie, Lizzie, and Meredith Keeley, Peter (Katie) Flynn, Brad (Meredith), Evan, and Carter Allison, Patrick (Rachel) and Elliot Keeley, Ben Cassell, Molly Sandel , Hannah Minnix , Clara Keeley, Matthew and Claire Sibley, Andrew and Maggie Cash, Brian Eads, Laura and Kate Keeley, Errett (Jennifer Hamm, Emily, Charlotte, and Graham Keeley, Courtney, Megan, and Christopher Keeley, Sarah and Sam Sweeney; 10 great-grandchildren: Penelope and Peter Hobbie, Max and Keeley Gould, Noah and Emerson Flynn, Cailey Allison; Brett, Jackyln, and Justin Hamm; nieces and nephew: Ceil Keeley Williams, Carol (John) Hart, and Cathy Keeley, Steve Keeley and a host of beloved extended family. Born and raised in Roanoke, Va., he attended Our Lady of Nazareth School, later known as Roanoke Catholic School. He graduated from high school at age 16 and went on to attend Roanoke College for 2 years, transferring to the University of Virginia. He proceeded to the University of Virginia Medical School, graduating in 1944. He did his internship at the U.S Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Va. During WWII, he served as a captain in the Navy from 1945-1946. On his return, he continued his education with a residency in general and thoracic surgery at Duke University. His time at Duke was a turning point in his life (and many others) as this is where he met his wife, Nina, the love of his life, who was working as a nurse at the time.
Shortly after meeting Nina they wed, and after their first 3 children, he was recalled to active duty with the 1st Marine Division in Korea. He was a M*A*S*H surgeon for one year and then returned to Durham to complete his surgical residency in 1955. After this (and two MORE children plus one on the way), he and Nina moved to Roanoke, where he started his private surgical practice (and they would have many more children).
After a few years of private practice, Dr. Keeley, Dr. Hugh Trout, Sr. and Dr. Bill Butler founded Jefferson Surgical Clinic. He remained an active partner of JSC until 2012. He continued to work as a disability determination physician at the Social Security Administration up until his death.
His numerous appointments included: Chief of Surgery as well as Chief of Staff at Roanoke Memorial and Community Hospitals and Clinical Professor of Surgery with the University of Virginia School of Medicine, where he trained numerous surgeons that continue to practice in the Roanoke Valley. He was president of the Virginia Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Foundation from 1978 until present. He helped found Bradley Free Clinic and was instrumental in creating Project Access of Roanoke Valley, providing medical services to the uninsured.
He was an Eagle Scout, a member of the Knights of Columbus, and actively participated in the Rotary Club. He was on the Board of Directors for the National Conference of Christians and Jews, First President of Catholic Family and Children's Services, and founder/chairman of Roanoke Area Drug Abuse Council. He was a staunch supporter of Catholic education and was actively involved in Roanoke Catholic School throughout his life. As a parishioner of Our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church, he served as lector and Eucharistic minister in addition to numerous parish board appointments. He was on the board of the Advancement Foundation and the United Way.
Among many awards, he received the Medical Society of Virginia Community Service Award 1991, Medical Alumnus of Year-UVA 2001, Roanoke Academy of Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award 2004, and most recently he received the Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice Award by Pope Benedict XVI 2012, the highest papal honor for a lay person for community service in the Catholic Church. In 2012,
Carilion honored him by establishing the Healing Arts Foundation, a program dedicated to art and music as part of the healing process.
A most cherished award was his Father of the Year Award in 1967. He was dedicated to his family most of all. He was passionate about his wife, family, faith, medicine, friends, service to his community and fishing. He especially enjoyed time with family and friends at Smith Mountain Lake and Wrightsville Beach, NC. He will be remembered for his tireless work ethic, dedication, wisdom, humor, compassion, generosity, fairness and respect for ALL.
The family will receive visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, March 21, 2014 at Our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church (OLN), 2505 Electric Rd. A celebration of life will be held Saturday, March 22, at 11 a.m. at OLN with the Rev. Msgr. Joseph Lehman officiating with a private graveside service.
Special thanks to the nurses and staff of 9 South, Dr. Robert C. Keeley, Dr. Phil Shiner, Dr. Kevin Dye, Dr. Jim Cain, Dr. William Whitney and Good Samaritan Hospice for all their loving care.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the following: Project Access of Roanoke Valley, the Carilion Healing Arts Foundation or Roanoke Catholic School.
Funeral services by Oakey's Downtown, www.oakeys.com.