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Michael N. Keathley

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Michael N. Keathley, a Bernie native, whose energetic tenure as Commissioner of the Office of Administration and chief budget writer led to unprecedented improvements in state government, passed away Wednesday, March 5, surrounded by his family at his home in Dexter after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was 50 years old.

A proud life-long Republican, Mr. Keathley was appointed Commissioner of Administration by Governor Matt Blunt in 2005 after serving as budget director for the governor's transition team. During his time as Commissioner, Mr. Keathley was credited with developing and carrying out policies that eliminated the state budget deficit, improved how government works and implemented the wiser use of Missourians' money.

As Commissioner of Administration, Mr. Keathley served on a variety of boards and commissions including the Missouri Board of Fund Commissioners, the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan Board of Trustees and on the board of the Missouri State Employees Retirement System.

Prior to his appointment as Commissioner of Administration, Mr. Keathley, in 2002 was named by then-Senate President Pro Tem and longtime friend Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau to the post of Missouri State Senate Administrator, the Senate's top staff position. During his time in the Senate, Mr. Keathley is credited for successfully instituting a series of policies that improved Senate operations including reduced costs and the improvement of staff performance.

As both Senate Administrator and Commissioner of Administration, Mr. Keathley earned the reputation as a tireless and energetic worker whose efforts were praised by both Republicans and Democrats, as well as by state workers and various administrators. Keathley was recruited to state government after a successful 19-year career with IXL Manufacturing Company, Inc. in Bernie where he served as Director of Purchasing, Director of Marketing, Vice President-Marketing, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and President of the world's largest manufacturer of striking tool handles. He also served for four years as an executive with IXL's parent company, US Industries.

In recognition of Mr. Keathley's service to the state, Governor Blunt has ordered flags at state facilities in Stoddard and Cole counties to be flown at half-staff until dusk on the evening that follows Mr. Keathley's services.

Mr. Keathley has served his industry and community on the Advisory Board of the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment Disorder, board of directors of the American Hardware Manufacturers Association, Hardware Marketing Council, President of the Hickory Handle Association, Vice President of the Southeast Missouri Council and Executive Board of the Greater Saint Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Dexter Memorial Hospital and on the administrative board of the First United Methodist Church of Dexter. Mr. Keathley was a sixth generation Missourian, an Eagle Scout, and a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow. He has been honored by the Boy Scouts with the Award of Merit, the Goodman Award, and is one of the youngest ever recipients of the Silver Beaver Award.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, Mr. Keathley was President of Omicron Delta Kappa and Director of Vanderbilt Student Communications.

Known for his tireless energy and quick and detailed command of the facts, Mr. Keathley was also an avid train enthusiast who often traveled the nation by rail with his family. Mr. Keathley had an uncanny knowledge of, and love for, the history of all types.

Born on March 28, 1957, Mr. Keathley is survived by his beloved wife of 14 years, Julie Rehm Keathley of Dexter, and dear sons, Peyton Rehm and Mason Reagan. Keathley is also survived by his parents, Bob and Yvonne Keathley of Bernie; brothers Robert Gary Keathley and wife Cary of St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada; Ronald Lee Keathley and wife Miki of Dexter; and David Wayne Keathley and wife Karen of Dexter.

Visitation will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, March 7, at Rainey-Mathis Funeral Home, 125 West Stoddard Street, Dexter.

Funeral Services will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, at the First United Methodist Church, 501 S. Walnut Street, Dexter.

A memorial service will be held at a later date in Jefferson City. Memorials may be made to the Michael N. Keathley Foundation for Autism, c/o First Commercial Bank, PO Box 574, Dexter, MO 63841.


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