PEORIA - Harold Rudolph "Rudy" Keeling, formerly of Peoria passed away peacefully at his home in Londonderry, N.H., surrounded by family last Saturday morning, July 6, 2013, after a valiant battle against cancer.
Keeling, a native New Yorker, was born March 17, 1947, the third child and oldest son of Harold R. and Theodora Holder Keeling. He attended Bishop Dubois High School.
Keeling's distinguished legacy in athletics began as a student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame and later at Quincy University, where he met his loving wife, Jane, in 1967.
In 1977, he was named head coach at Bergan High School (now Peoria Notre Dame), directing the Trojans to second place in the Class A state finals that season. He spent one more season at Bergan before starting his collegiate coaching career in 1980 at Bradley University as an assistant basketball coach. He created Bradley's first student athlete academic assistance program and continued as an assistant at Marquette University in 1986.
He began his head coaching career at the University of Maine, Orono (1988 to 1996), where he became Maine's first African-American head coach and led the Black Bears to their first ever 20-win season, resulting in his selection as the Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year. He was the head coach at Northeastern University from 1996 to 2001. The mainstay of his coaching philosophy was a commitment to both the academic and athletics success of his student-athletes amassing a near 100 percent graduation rate during his coaching career.
In 2002, Keeling entered athletics administration, serving as the director of athletics at Emerson College. In May of 2007, Keeling was appointed as the commissioner of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), the largest intercollegiate conference in the country. He retired from that position this year.
A lifelong athlete, Rudy enjoyed playing golf and spending time outdoors, cooking out on the grill, and entertaining family and friends at his home. Respected by colleagues for his deep sense of fairness, Rudy was a generous mentor who improved the lives of many of the people he touched. He had a great sense of humor, a sharp wit, and a captivating smile.
In addition to his devoted wife of 42 years, Jane, Rudy leaves behind his loving children and their partners, Drs. Kara Keeling and Chandra Ford, Ms. Tina Keeling and Mr. Nick Valadez, and Mr. Cory Keeling; as well as his treasured grandson, Nicholas Spalding Valadez.
His son Kip predeceased him in 2011.
He leaves behind his mother, Theodora; two brothers, Leon Keeling, of Charlotte, N.C., and the Reverend Dr. Terrence Keeling of Cherry Hill, N.J. He also leaves behind David Keeling of Las Vegas, Nev., and many nieces, nephews, in-laws, and hundreds of friends and colleagues.
Memorial services for family and friends will be held on Friday, July 12, 2013, at the Peabody Funeral Homes and Crematorium, 290 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, N.H. Visiting hours will be from 4:30 p.m. until the start of the memorial service at 6 p.m. A public memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 13, 2013, on the Emerson College campus at the Bobbi Brown & Steven Plofker Gym, 150 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the, "Rudy Keeling Scholarship Fund," c/o NACDA Foundation, 24651 Detroit Road, Westlake, OH 44145, being facilitated through the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA) / National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). The fund will assist young athletics administrators with furthering their postgraduate pursuits.
To send a condolence or for more information, please visit www.peabodyfuneralhome.com.