John Mathew Keir
May 14, 1928-April 9, 2017
John Keir was born on May 14, 1928, in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. His father John was a recent Scottish immigrant and his mother Elizabeth (Bosch) was of German heritage. After graduating from Grosse Pointe High School he attended the University of Michigan where he majored in Civil Engineering. Unfortunately John’s father died when he was a sophomore so he wound up putting himself through college working at a sorority house.
John was drafted into the U.S. Army shortly after receiving his Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering. Obtaining the rank of Sergeant First Class, he served his country during the Korean War with Company I of the 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Division. John received the Silver Star for his gallantry in action during the Battle on Hill 191 near Karhyon-Ni.
Following his service in the Army John worked the next 15 years from 1952 to 1967 for the Dravo Corporation, a company involved in heavy construction. John used his talent in engineering to help construct locks and dams, tunnels and bridge sub-construction. He met his wife Evelyn (nee Pigg) when he was working on a project in Tennessee and the couple began raising a family with five children while traversing the eastern half of the United States due to the many locales of John’s employment projects.
Growing tired of the constant shifts in homes for his wife and schools for his children, John decided to look for a more permanent residence. By chance, he saw an ad for an Engineer Manager position with the Crawford County Road Commission and got the job shortly after applying. John had lived in Grayling ever since, to the good fortune of Crawford County’s citizenry. Additionally, John had been an active member of the American Legion Post 106, serving in many capacities including Post Commander and Honor Guard.
John and Evelyn’s devotion to family was their strongest trait. Birthday parties, vacations, and holidays were staples in their lifestyle which John continued after Evelyn’s death in 2004. He regularly followed the variety of sports and other activities his children and grandchildren participated in as they grew up in the Grayling are. Always going the extra mile, John regularly volunteered to support the organizations that benefitted Crawford County residents whether it be by calling Bingo for the Grayling Youth Booster Club, American Legion Post 106, and Senior Citizens several times a week, selling raffle tickets, or taking a leadership role within the American Legion’s community support arm.
After retirement from his position at the Crawford County Road Commission in 1990, John volunteered his time to transport sick and disabled veterans in Crawford County to downstate medical and hospital appointments for many years. More often than not he was the only transporter available in the area for the local Veterans Affairs Office to call upon and performed this service with the gratitude of those he helped as his only form of compensation. In total, John logged more than 50,000 miles and worked over 1,500 hours in this important endeavor.
John’s loyalty to the University of Michigan (UM) athletics never wavered. He was a diehard Wolverine fan whose Saturdays in the Fall generally revolved around the start of the Michigan football game. His other principle passion in athletics was the game of golf. John was a regular league participant at the Grayling County Club and would frequently accompany the young and older boys of his family for a round, usually winning most of the time.
Other pursuits that John enjoyed were fishing, doing a daily crossword puzzle, helping complete challenging jigsaw puzzles, and partnering in a friendly game of euchre. John was an avid reader and regularly watched the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). In his earlier years he played baseball, usually occupying the team’s catcher position. John enjoyed traveling and had recently visited family in Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee and Florida. Several years ago he was able to visit his father’s extended family in Scotland with whom he had kept up regular communication.
During the final months of John’s life he became debilitated to a large degree as a result of a worsening medical condition. However, he was rewarded for a lifetime of family loyalty and kindness by his four dedicated daughters living in the area who provided him with around the clock care and attended to his every need. John was a very considerate man who invariably had a smile on his face and was a gentleman to those he met. He was the glue that bonded a large, ever growing family whose members will always cherish his memory.
John was preceded in death by his wife Evelyn, daughter Rebecca Lynn, and younger sister Betty. He is survived by four daughters, Elizabeth (Bruce) Lennon of Grayling, Sarah (Jim) Lawless of Roscommon, Tina (Tom) Haskel of Grayling, and Sharon (Todd) Willoughby of Grayling; one son Mathew of Titusville, Florida; 10 grandchildren; 9 great grandchildren; and brother Allan (Kathryn) Keir of Scottsdale, Arizona.
A Military Funeral Service will be held on Friday, April 14th beginning at 1:00 pm at the Elmwood Cemetery in Grayling. There will be a reception at the American Legion Post 106 Hall immediately afterward beginning at 1:30 pm.
The family requests memorials be made to the Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library, 201 Plum Street, Grayling, MI 49738; American Legion Leadership Scholarship Fund at Post 106 in Grayling; and/or the Grayling Youth Booster Club, P.O. Box 279, Grayling, MI 49738.
Arrangements by Sorenson Lockwood Funeral Home, Grayling.