Thomas Leroy Keeney was born in Needles, California on August 15, 1941 and was a much loved only child who spent his early years in California. He shared stories of fishing with his dad, getting into creative mischief with his friends, and exploring his neighborhood. He graduated from Simi Valley High School in 1959 when there were only 60 students in the high school. In 1966 he graduated from USC with a degree in Physics. Tom moved to Huntsville in 1972 with his first wife and their four children to continue working with the Department of the Army as a civil servant. He worked on several projects and received many awards and honors.
On July 3, 1986 he married the love of his life, Christine, and became a bonus dad to her three daughters. This began a new and very happy chapter of Tom’s life. Tom and Chris loved to travel and were blessed to visit many countries and almost every state in the United States. Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington State were among their favorites. Tom retired from civil service in January 1999 after a 39 year distinguished career. After retiring, he went to work as a contractor with CAS, now KBR, and was working there up until the time of his death.
Tom had a zest and joy for life that was contagious. His greatest joy came from being Papa to his beloved grandchildren. He loved boating, fishing, and traveling. Tom’s grandchildren learned to swim at the cabin on Tim’s Ford Lake. Papa gave the BEST tube rides and the grandchildren and their parents spent most weekends and all holidays in the summer at the cabin. There are fond memories of s’mores around the campfire, fishing at the cove and saving the fish for the big fish fry at the end of the season, and laughter that would fill the entire cove. Tom was an expert boater and enjoyed teaching others how to drive and operate the Snack Attack, named when the grandchildren were little and needed a snack before even leaving the cove. One annual highlight was decorating the boat in red, white, and blue regalia, riding out to the big cove, and watching the 4th of July fireworks from the boat while eating snacks and listening to the Beach Boys.
Tom was an active member of Adult Committee of Boy Scout Troop 351 from 2013-2018 and was very proud when one of his grandsons achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. They both became members of the Order of the Arrow and thoroughly enjoyed their one week of summer camp each year. Tom was a great mentor to many other young men in the troop and was a valued member of their Board of Review. Tom was a member of St. John’s Catholic Church, a long time volunteer with the Huntsville Botanical Gardens Galaxy of Lights, and past president of his neighborhood HOA.
Tom was the portrait of a great man. He had many gifts and talents and he shared them freely. He had an encouraging word for everyone. He had a laugh and twinkle in his blue eyes that would light up the room. He was full of puns, funny & silly, but also serious and hardworking. He was a master tinkerer and taught others how to fix and prolong the lives of items long past their normal expected working time. He was a good cook and was often inspired by his travels, a cook book, or cooking show to make something delicious for dinner. He and Chris hosted many events for friends and family and are best known for their Easter parties. This involved brunch, an egg hunt, silly games with prizes, and the most fun outdoor game that Tom invented, called Peeps in which you hit marshmallow peeps with a badminton racquet until the yard was full of tiny colorful bits. The grandchildren loved this annual event.
There are not enough words to describe Tom Keeney. He was a beloved husband, dad, and Papa. He will be missed greatly, but his legacy will live on in the hearts of the many people he loved, mentored, and encouraged. We know Tom is with God in heaven, and we look forward to the day we see him again and get one of his big bear hugs.
Tom is preceded in death by his parents Thomas Leslie Keeney and Margaret Cissel Keeney. He is survived by his loving wife and best friend of 36 years, Christine Keeney, his children Marcia Coons (Jeff), Angie Koons (Bill), Charlene Halvorsen (Bud), Elizabeth Floyd (James), Mike Keeney (Kathy), Debbie Still (Jeff), and Scott Keeney (Elise). He is also survived by his grandchildren Adam, Molly, Katherine, Madeline Anne, Matthew, Luna, Nick, Patrick, Michael, Gracie, Bridget, Emily, Rachel, Andrew, Christopher, Karen, Wendy, Bonnie, Asher, Skyler, and Miranda as well as several great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Smile Train https://www.smiletrain.org/.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated Saturday July 2, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. at St. John’s Catholic Church on Hughes Road in Madison, AL.