ARLINGTON, Va. - Keith E. Eastin, 73, died at his home in Arlington, Virginia on Friday, January 3, of complications related to colon cancer. He is survived by his wife Susan and friends and professional colleagues from coast to coast, too numerous to count.
With AB and MBA degrees from the University of Cincinnati, and a JD degree from the University of Chicago Law School, Keith at the time of his death was Vice President, Strategic Planning for The Louis Berger Group in Washington, D.C., overseeing strategic planning for its worldwide engineering and construction programs. He spent his distinguished professional career crossing back and forth between the public and private sectors in increasingly responsible positions in Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., generally focusing, in his own words, on "fixing the problems and projects of others, and specializing in getting things done." A roughly chronological listing of his professional roles includes:
Attorney: Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholz, Chicago, Ill.
Vice President & General Counsel: National Convenience Stores, Inc., Houston, Texas
Partner: Payne, Eastin & Widmer, Houston, Texas
Assoc. Solicitor, Conservation & Wildlife: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
Deputy Under Secretary: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D.C.
Partner: Hopkins & Sutter, Washington, D.C.
Sr. Vice President and Chief Legal Officer: Guy F. Atkinson Co., San Francisco, Calif.
National Director, Resource Valuation Services: Deloitte & Touche LLP, Washington, D.C.
Director: PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Houston, Texas
Vice President & General Counsel: The Customer Co., San Francisco, Calif
Special Counsel: U.S. Department of the Interior
Senior Consultant to the City of Baghdad on Municipal Services: U.S. Department of State, Baghdad, Iraq
Assistant Secretary of the Army, Installations & Environment: The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
In this final Presidential appointment position, Keith oversaw the management of more than $25 billion of facilities programs at roughly 150 Army installations worldwide. Earlier government appointments took him to the Green Zone in Baghdad, where he was chief advisor to the Ministry of Environment; to New York Harbor, where he managed the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island restoration project; to Moab, Utah where he negotiated and organized the closure of the world's largest private sector uranium mill tailings facility; to Seoul, Korea, where he helped organize a plan for moving all U.S. forces away from the DMZ to joint U.S./Korea/private housing facilities…the list goes on…all in the name of "getting things done."
In what he referred to as "other stuff," Keith found time to serve as President, Director and longtime board member of the Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, and to organize, finance and oversee the management of seven upscale pizza restaurants in Houston in the 70's and 80's. He loved fast cars, rarely missing an annual trip to the Indianapolis 500, and Harley Davidson motorcycles, joining friends for cross country bike trips in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Lucky friends enjoyed gourmet meals from his kitchen, while admiring contemporary Eastin artwork on the walls and Eastin serenades on the kazoo...yes, the kazoo. The Flight of the Bumblebee was his specialty.
Above all was the sense of humor. One learned with Keith, at his or her own peril, never to make the risky assumption that Keith was being serious. He was an invitation to fun, giving us permission even in serious times to look at life in a not-so-serious way. He believed that at heart adults are silly and the world is a bit askew, and he lived his life proving that to be true. An authentic character, larger than life, a force of nature, one of a kind…all clichés, perhaps, but all true in Keith's case.
Keith loved Susan, fine wine, driving fast, the Republican party, practical jokes, getting things done, and making a difference.
He would want to be remembered for meeting with three-star generals over base closures at lunch and pulling the mongoose trick on them over cocktails that same evening. We will miss him terribly.
Published in The Morning Journal on Jan. 8, 2014