Jack D. Keim

Jack D. Keim, 82, Lawrence, Kansas, passed away on Friday, November 18, 2022.

On January 12, 1940, just one day shy of his parents’ first anniversary, Jack was born to Donnis and Roxie (Sherraden) Keim. He had to wait nearly 5 years to meet his Marine father coming home from serving in WW2. While he was gone, Jack and his mother stayed with her parents, on the farm outside Chapman, Kansas, where he had been born.  After being reunited, the family moved to Junction City where his dad worked in a bakery. Later, his parents ventured into buying and running the City Cafe in Wakefield, where Jack attended 3rd through 5th grades. Yet another move brought them to Topeka, where his parents owned and operated a “Mom and Pop” grocery store on East 6th Street. Jack attended East Topeka Junior High and Topeka High, where he graduated in 1957. He attended Washburn University for 2 years, and was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, then transferred to University of Kansas to complete his degree in Geology/Paleontology.  He worked at Dillons in Brookwood, then at Santa Fe offices in Topeka for a year before accepting a position in the Geology Department/Paleontological Institute of the University of Kansas. He married Mary Ellen (Chris) Christy in 1964. He and Chris moved to Lawrence and started raising a family, welcoming Marc in October 1969 and Jaquel in July of 1971. They later divorced. 

 During the 1960’s, Jack served 6 years in the Army Reserves as a cook (he liked to eat). He was a member of the Breakfast Cosmos of Lawrence for several years.

 In 1981 he married Karen Schmid of Topeka.

While at KU, Jack was privileged to work for and with R. C. Moore, who authored the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, and Curt Teichert, two of the most famous Geologists/Paleontologists in the world. As an editor of the Treatise, Jack had to retrieve books shipped to the campus library so he could photograph pictures of fossils for the newest edition of the Treatise and supplemental publications. This process involved loading film on an old Leica camera and developing the film in a dark room. Jack worked in the Paleontological Institute, Department of Geology, Lindley Hall at KU for 38 years until his retirement in 2003.

Jack loved working at KU. He loved KU sports and was fortunate that he was able to attend both basketball and football games as a season ticket holder. Later he watched as many games as possible on TV in his armchair. He also loved watching his Chiefs games, and most any football game on TV.  Sports and working in his yard were his passions. Jack was known for his stories, quirky sense of humor and cracking lame jokes.

As a former dog lover, he learned to love cats, as several strays won his heart and became his snuggle buddies. 

He loved being outside in his yard; therefore, it is fitting that, even with painful knees, he died in his yard while raking leaves.

He leaves behind wife Karen, of the home. Sisters- in- law and spouses, Nancy (Jerry) Hanson, Lawrence; Elaine Schweitzer, Hopkins, MN; and Christie (Tony) Wedeking, Topeka.  Son, Marc, wife Jessica Jessee, of Windsor, CO, and daughter, Jaquel, husband Michael Van Vleck, of Topeka; granddaughters Jorianne and Isabella, of Topeka; step-son, Scott Billings, Topeka and step-daughter Shelley Bond of Kansas City; step-granddaughters, Jennifer (Matt) McGranahan, Topeka; Jessica Billings, Burlingame; Audra (Nathan) Vandevord , Topeka; and Andrea Billings, Topeka; step-great grandkids: Tyler, Leah, Rowan, Joey, Parker, Zachary, Garrett, Cheyenne, Tripp, and Evelyn Rose.

Service for Jack will be Saturday, December 10th at 11:00 AM, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vermont St, Lawrence Kansas 66044. Inurnment will be at Pioneer Cemetery on KU campus.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to KU Endowment, Lawrence Humane Shelter, or charity of choice and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

For more information or to post a condolence go to warrenmcelwain.com.

4 Condolences

  1. Ric and Darlene Lantz on November 26, 2022 at 11:53 am

    Ric and I are so sorry to hear of Jack’s passing. We will miss him working in the yard raking leaves. We only have Ric’s mom left and know how hard it is to lose a loved one. If you need anything, we are here to help. Our sympathies and best wishes to you and the remaining family members.

  2. Rick and Ramona Taylor on December 2, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    Sincere heartfelt condolences to you, Scott, and your Mom and the rest of your family from both Rick and me.
    Many hugs to you,
    Ramona Taylor, Topeka, KS

  3. Chris and Dale Glenn on December 3, 2022 at 9:17 am

    We are so sorry for your loss. With deepest sympathy we are wishing you and all Jack’s family peace, comfort and wonderful memories.

    Chris and Dale Glenn

  4. Tamara Whorton on December 3, 2022 at 10:35 am

    So sorry for your loss. Hoping you are comforted by loving. happy memories.

    Max & Tamara Whorton

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