Robert Peel Keathley

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1901 - 1943


Funeral services for Rev. Robert Peel Keathley, outstanding minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and teacher at Campbell Missouri, were conducted at the McKenzie Cumberland Presbyterian Church Tuesday afternoon, April 20. Burial was in Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Mt. Keathley had been in ill heatlh for several months but had carried on his work as minister and teacher, delivering a sermon on April 11. On last Thursday he was taken to a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, where he died Saturday night of a heart ailment.

Mr. Keathley, 41, was born and reared in West Tennessee, the son of the late Rev. and Mrs. R. L. Keathley. His father served as president of Bethel College for several years. He taught in the Bethel Preparatory School in 1922-23. He was graduated from Castle Heights Military Academy, Lebanon, in 1921, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Tennessee with the Master's degree. He was married to Miss Louretta Hilliard of McKenzie, in 1926.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Clarice Keathley, of Campbell, Missouri; his mother, Mrs. R. L. Keathley, of Eldorado Springs, Missouri; and a brother, Belt Keathley, of Nashville.

. . .

No one thought of his being even as old as he was, for he was always known as one of the younger ministers of the Church. Here was another man of much ability and with deep convictions. Peel was a student in the deepest sense of the word, always preparing himself for a better way of doing his work. He was deeply interested in teaching people, a fact which kept him connected with the school system much of his ministerial life. However, this did not make him move in a direction away from his Church loyalty. He gave himself to church work with as much ardor as he did to any other field where he could serve. Although he was a teaching minister, he was likewise an inspirational leader and a spiritual man. He took his faith seriously and felt deep conviction in his work among people. In many ways he reflected the spirit of his father who was a man of powerful conviction throughout his ministry.

The large crowd of people who attended Brother Keathley's funeral at McKenzie, Tennessee, was evidence of the esteem people had for him. Many of his Missouri friends were present. The funeral service was conducted in the McKenzie Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Peel is the first minister of his age group to pass over the great divide. Scattered over the Church are members of his group and age who are carrying on the work of the Church. His passint comes as a shock and also as a reminder to this group. Yes, one of our own age has passed on. His mantle must fall upon some of our shoulders now. In a few more years we, like Brother McCord, will have reached the age when we shall have to permit that mantle to fall upon more men of Peel's age and consecration.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, April 29, 1943, page 22]

Rev. Robert Peel Keathley, Missouri
The funeral services for Rev. Robert Peel Keathley, whose death occurred in a St. Louis hospital Saturday, April 18, 1943, were held at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, McKenzie, Tennessee, Tuesday, April 21, at 2:30 p.m.

The services at the church were conducted by a group of ministers who were Brother Keathley's friends and co-workers. They were: Revs. W. B. Cunningham, Union City, Tennessee; E. K. Reagin, Morris Pepper, D. W. Perry, McKenzie, Tennessee; and Wayne A. Lamb, pastor of the M.E. Church, McKenzie, Tennessee. Rev. Melvin Chambers, Odessa, Missouri, and Rev. W. W. Kitterman, Montrose, Missouri, held the services at the grave. Rev. R. W. Furkin, Warrensburg, Missouri, had prayer with the family in the home before the funeral.

The pallbearers, consisting of old friends and classmates, were: Rev. Hinkley Smartt, Mr. Lindle Motheral, Mr. Lawton Ward, McKenzie, Tennessee; Mr. Alton Barksdale, Paris, Tennessee; Mr. Edward Lovitt, Morrisville, Missouri; and Mr. Thomas Wilkins, Campbell, Missouri. The honorary pallbearers and the flower bearers consisted of faculty members and students of the Morrisville and Campbell, Missouri, high schools.

The honor and esteem with which his fellow workers regarded Brother Keathley was demonstrated by the fact that many of them drove hundreds of miles to be in the funeral services. Among the out-of-state ministers and laymen present were: Rev. W. O. Wayman, moderator of Lexington Presbytery, of which Brother Keathley had recently been a member; Rev. W. W. Kitterman, representing the Lexington Presbyterial Board of Missions; Rev. Melvin Chambers, representing the Missouri Synodic Board of Missions; Rev. R. W. Furkin, missionary field man for Missouri Synod; and Mr. W. L. Robins, representing the Salem church of Lexington Presbytery, of which Brother Keathley had been pastor for a number of years.

Not only did his minister friends attend but also many others with whom he had been associated in other endeavors among whom were representatives of the student body and faculty of the Campbell and Morrisville, Missouri, high schools, representatives of the Campbell Rotary Club, the Baptist minister of Campbell, and the former family doctor and his wife, of Morrisville. Relatives and other friends attending the funeral were from Rutherford, Jackson, and McKenzie, Tennessee; Hickman, Kentucky; and Bluefield, West Virginia.

The following facts of his active and useful life suggest why so many mourn Brother Keathley's passing. He was born September 18, 1901, at Howell, Tennessee. He became a Christian and joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at an early age.

He attended and graduated from Castle Heights Military Academy in 1918. He entered Bethel College in 1920, graduating in 1924. In 1931 he secured his Master of Arts Degree from the University of Tennessee, after which he attended the University of Colorado, working toward his Ph.D. Due to his unusual ability and work in the field of education, he became a member of the Phi Delta Kappa honorary educational fraternity.

In 1921 he entered the ministry of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, serving as an active minister until his death, having held services for his church in Campbell, Missouri, the Sunday before his death the following Saturday. During the years in the ministry he served churches in Lenoir City, Tennessee; Morrisville, Warrensburg, and Campbell, Missouri.

Besides being a successful local pastor, he served his denomination well, teaching in Bethel College in 1924-25, serving on the Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Missions and Church Erection 1937-41, serving as commissioner to the General Assembly on a number of occasions, and working on various important committees of that body.

Throughout the years of his ministry he was also a schoolteacher and principal in the public schools, teaching in Lenoir City, Tennessee, and Morrisville, Missouri, for a number of years at each place. He was a teacher of science in the Campbell, Missouri, High School at the time of his death.

In 1925 he married Miss Louetta Hilliard, of McKenzie, Tennessee. He is survived by his wife; his daughter, Clarice Ann; his mother, Mrs. R. L. Keathley, El Dorado Springs, Missouri; his brother, Mr. Belt Keathley, Nashville, Tennessee; and a host of friends.
                                                                              --Morris Pepper.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, May 13, 1943, page 23]

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Updated October 1, 2007