Tri-City Ledger -

Keese spent his life to help others in the area

Long-time Flomaton pastor died on Feb. 11

 

March 25, 2021

Keese

Jerry W. Keese was born on November 5, 1937 and was raised in Anderson, South Carolina. He graduated from Anderson College, went on to Furman University to earn his bachelor's degree in history. He attended Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and earned his Master's Degree in Religious Education and later another Master's in Religious Theology. He completed his doctorate degree in May of 2003 from Trinity Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana that was accredited by the University of Liverpool in England.

Keese, who spent many years as the pastor at Flomaton First Baptist Church, died Feb. 11, 2021, after spending a life helping others.

He began pastoring his first church at the age of 18 as a college student with South McDuffie Baptist in Anderson, South Carolina. While in seminary school, he would serve Guston Baptist Church in Kentucky from 1960-1964. He became Pastor of Trinity Baptist in Newport, Kentucky in 1964. In 1967, he was the youth pastor at First Baptist of College Park, Georgia until 1970. From 1970-1974 he served as Pastor at Harvest Heights Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia prior to receiving the call to become Pastor at First Baptist Church of Flomaton in February of 1974.

While Bro. Keese pastored at First Baptist Church of Flomaton, the church established a Daycare Center in 1975 and built a building for it in 1980. The Family Life Center was built in 1976.

Bro. Keese left the church in 1980 and pastored at First Baptist Church of Century, Florida from 1981-1988.

During this time, he taught Old Testament, New Testament, and Sociology courses at Jefferson Davis Community College from 1978-1986.

He returned to First Baptist Flomaton in June of 1988. Under his leadership, the church remodeled the sanctuary, built a new Sunday School addition along with a major renovation of the Fellowship Hall/Kitchen areas in 1998. From 1975 through 2000, the church purchased six properties adjacent to it for future expansion. As the congregation continued to grow, Bro. Keese led the church to form new staff positions in the areas of music, youth and children's ministries.

He organized First Baptist Church of Flomaton senior citizen's group the "Fun Folks" where he planned several trips a year all-over the United States. These were so popular that he later included all of the Escambia Baptist Association churches as well as the churches where he served as interim pastor. He also led four trips to the Holy Land.

He received the Alumni Achievement Award from Anderson College in 1998 and was the Flomaton Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 2000.

In December of 2001 after more than 20 years of service to First Baptist Flomaton, Bro. Keese retired from full- time ministry for serving only part-time. In the years following, he would serve as interim pastor at Gonzalez Baptist Church in Cantonment, Cora Baptist Church in Jay, Robinsonville Baptist in Atmore, and Ridge Road Baptist in Brewton.

He returned to First Baptist Flomaton and was honored to be named Pastor Emeritus in 2004. He served again as interim pastor from 2006-2008. He was asked to serve as Associate Pastor in 2012. Bro. Keese holds the longest tenure in the 143 year history of First Baptist Church.

During his ministry, he united between 400-500 couples in marriage and baptized over 300. His #1 passion was people and investing in relationships with people. He never met a stranger. He was always praying for or encouraging someone. His children recall the numerous times he would leave home bright and early in the mornings to drive to Pensacola to make hospital calls and pray with people before their 6am surgery. All the visiting he had with shut-ins or those in a hospital bed, sitting in a waiting room with a family, helping people find jobs, writing letters of recognition or recommendation, counseling couples, performing numerous weddings and funerals, teaching Bible studies at college, and ministering from the pulpit.

In 1976, Bro. Jerry met Doris Broomes. There is a funny story of how these two met. When Bro. Keese was pastoring at FBC, Dewey and Irene Bondurant had their second child, Claire. Dewey asked Bro. Keese to ride down with him and Doris (Irene's mother) to visit them in the hospital. When they arrived, the nursing staff assumed Bro. Keese was the "grandfather" and dressed him in a gown and mask with the rest of them. On the drive home from Pensacola, Dewey claims there were only two people in the car. Jerry and Doris. They talked non-stop. And the rest was history! Bro. Keese and Doris were married for 38 years before her passing.

Bro. Keese loved sports. Especially Atlanta Braves baseball, University of Kentucky basketball, and Alabama football. In his earlier years, he played softball, basketball, tennis and a LOT of golf.

He was an avid reader and loved games like Yahtzee and Canasta. He could single handedly beat the entire family at Trivial Pursuit.

Bro. Keese met and married Mollie Spain Keese and they lived in Hopkinsville, Kentucky for the past eight years before his passing. Bro. Keese was blessed to have found such a loving wife and partner to spend his life with.

Bro. Keese's children and grandchildren live in and around the Flomaton, Pensacola, Gulf Breeze and Hopkinsville, Kentucky areas.

Bro. Keese was committed to his family and to his church family. He longed for all to know Jesus. In the Tri-County area he was certainly EVERYONE'S pastor. Most will fondly remember his favorite sermon, "Right or Left at Oak Street (the decisions I make each day... I don't know which takes more courage...the staying or the running away).

 
 

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