LCDR Earl Eugene Keele, 93, of Greenville, passed away Saturday, December 18, 2021, at Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center. He was born in Taskee, MO, June 12, 1928, to parents Earl and Dorothy (Wilson) Keele.
Earl was a loving father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. He married Naomi Bridges on November 12, 1949, and to this union three children were born. Earl and Naomi shared the same birth date of different years. Earl proudly served his country when he enlisted in the United States Air Force in August 1947 and was a structural airplane mechanic. He was honorably discharged in October 1950.
Earl earned a degree when he attended seminary in the 1950’s. He was commissioned as Lieutenant (Junior Grade) in the United States Navy on April 12, 1962, serving as General Chaplain. While in the service, Earl earned a Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V, two National Defense Service Medals, and a Vietnam Service Medal with three bronze stars. Earl served several tours, his last tour, before being released from active duty, was with the Naval Disciplinary Command, Portsmouth, NH, on June 26, 1971, and was honorably discharged on June 30, 1971, with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. After discharge, Earl was served with the United States Navy Reserve. In 1979, Earl was Chaplain I at the Department of Corrections of Tennessee and retired from that position as Chaplain II, March 24, 1989. Earl retired from United States Naval Reserve, July 1, 1981, and retired from the United States navy June 12, 1988. After coming home from service, Earl earned three college degrees, two associate and a bachelor’s degree, including a Master of Theology.
Earl was of the Baptist faith and a member of Greenville First Baptist Church. He enjoyed children and was an elementary teacher for many years. Earl also enjoyed telling childhood stories about when he went on water fetching trips, and riding mules. Regardless of the moment, Earl always had an old hymn for every situation.
In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his wife of sixty-three years, son: Norvin Douglas Keele; brother: Doyle Keele; sisters: Martha Whittaker and Virginia Parker.
Earl is survived by his children: Kay O’Farrell and husband Michael of Wales, UK, Kimberly White of Silva; grandchildren: Joshua White and significant other, Sarah Shay, Jared White and wife Alicia, and Joel White; great-grandchildren: Bradley Sullivan and significant other, Kristin Patterson, Haylee White, and Kylie White; great-great-grandchild: Caroline Sullivan. Earl will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
Visitation will be held at 12:30 pm, Monday, December 27, 2021, at Ruegg Funeral Home, Greenville Chapel. Funeral service will follow at 2:00 pm, also in the Greenville Chapel. Burial will be in Mt. Pisgah Cemetery with full military honors. Online condolences can be made at www.rueggfuneralhomes.com
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