James Heaton Keech

January 9, 1933 ~ August 4, 2020 (age 87)


James Keech, 87, of Keeler, Mich., peacefully made his final curtain call Aug. 4, 2020.

A lifelong resident of the area, his travels circled the earth several times. A Hartford High School graduate of 1951, James was named a Class C All-State football player. He was a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in the Korean War. He received bachelor and master degrees from Western Michigan University, and worked at Watervliet High School as a social studies and drama teacher for 37 years. During his time, he also coached football, and later announced Varsity games, using flowery penalty terms such as “yellow hanky” for the home crowd. He was known in the area for his love of the theater, being involved in over 350 high school, summer stock and community productions as director. He occasionally took a sabbatical or two, teaching English abroad in countries such as Japan, China and Poland. He was a 32nd degree mason, who also served as quartermaster for VFW Post #1137 for many years. Another interest, as many people knew, was his love of cartooning, submitting a weekly caricature for the Tri-City Record for 15 years. He enjoyed spending time with children, especially his own.

He was preceded in death by his father and mother: Gerrit (Louthelle) Keech of Hartford; sister. LuAn (Nick) Korsak of Hartford; brother, Richard (Barbara) Keech of Eau Claire and wife Ruth (Keillor) of Hartford.

Survivors include sister, Sharyn Robbins-Kuempel (Kenneth) of Sawyer; three sons: Timothy (Mary) of Kennewick, Washington, Matthew (Gaytha) of Hartford, Christopher of St. Joseph, daughter Rachel (John Daly) of Mattawan, six grandchildren and one great grand-child.

Public visitation is scheduled from 1-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, observing virus restrictions at Calvin Funeral Home, Hartford. A private burial with immediate family will follow. A celebration of life will be scheduled at a later date when virus restrictions will allow, and a venue is found large enough to accommodate a public remembrance, as the family understands that he was a man who changed a great number of lives for the better. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Hartford Public Schools Foundation for Quality Education. Those wishing to leave memorial condolences for the family may do so at

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James Heaton Keech, please visit our floral store.


Visitation (with restrictions)
August 13, 2020

1:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Calvin Funeral Home
8 East Main Street, Post Office Box 96
Hartford, MI 49057


Hartford Public Schools Foundation for Quality Education
P.O. Box 403, Hartford MI 49057

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