KEEVER, JACK ELTON (1938 ~ 2004). Jack Elton Keever, journalist and author, was born May 16, 1938, in Port Arthur, Texas, to R. E. Keever and Agnes Honeycutt Keever. His Austin family started with his marriage to a fellow University of Texas student, Cynthia Lee Pendergrass of Dallas, in 1961. His fervor for writing led to a journalism career that began at UT, where he served as managing editor of The Daily Texan in 1959 - 1960 and was a member of the Silver Spurs. He received his bachelor of journalism degree in 1960. After joining the workforce, he continued his studies at UT on a part-time basis and received his masters of journalism degree in 1965. After receiving his bachelor's degree, Jack joined the U. S. Marine Corps and served six months' active duty and four years' reserve duty. He was hired by The Associated Press in Dallas in 1961 and was transferred later that year to the AP Austin Bureau, where he worked until 1992.
His work for The Associated Press included coverage of the Kennedy Assassination, the LBJ Texas White House, 15 sessions of the Texas legislature and a broad range of state government activities, 11 governors' races and political campaigns for other statewide offices, UT football and basketball games, and University Interscholastic League boys' basketball and track championships. His was the first story when Charles Whitman began a shooting spree from the UT Tower in 1966.
Despite spending full days at a typewriter meeting the demands of his AP work schedule, evenings would find Jack pecking away at his typewriter at home, further fulfilling his insatiable desire to write by composing magazine articles, editing books and writing books. His freelance articles appeared in several Texas magazines, including Texas Monthly. His book-writing credits include "Portrait in Power," a biography of former Governor John B. Connally he co-authored in 1973; "Waggoner Carr Not Guilty," co-authored with the former Texas attorney general in 1977; a history of his church, "All Saints' Episcopal Church 1950 - 2000;" "Austin Creeks" in 1977, a history of local waterways; and a history of the Texas insurance industry, "Insuring Texas" Future: in 1996. He also edited several sports books, "Oklahoma vs. Texas: When Football Becomes War" in 1980, and "Goal Line" in 1984, as well as "Oh God, I'm Dead-A Journey Back to Life" in 1996 and "Deep East Texas" in 1993.
Jack's love of language also manifested itself in a voracious reading appetite -- with emphasis on mysteries, literature and Texas history -- that resulted in his being a member of the author selection committee for the Texas Book Festival from its beginning in 1996 until 2002.
After leaving the AP, Jack shared his passion for cogent self-expression and his professional expertise with students at Austin Community College as a journalism instructor from 1992 to 2000. His skills were recognized by six Charles E. Green Journalism Awards from the Headliners Foundation between 1967 to 1975, an honorable mention in the Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award by Columbia University in 1973, five Texas staffer of the year awards from the AP, and an excellence award for teaching by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development in 2000.
Jack's devotion to his church was demonstrated not only by his writing a history of his church, but also by service on the vestry twice, in the 1970s and the 1990s, and as a trustee board member (1974 - 1975) and president (1976 - 1977) of the All Saints' Episcopal Day School. His other civic activities included serving as president of the North University Neighborhood Association during 1990 - 1993; a member of the City of Austin Cable Commission during 1987 - 1990; a member of the Laguna Gloria Art Museum board of trustees during 1975 - 1981, and a member of the Bicentennial Commission of Austin during 1973 - 1976. His memberships included the American Newspaper Guild (1968 - 1992), Elections Advisory Committee of Texas (1987 - 1990), Society of Professional Journalists, Texas State Historical Association, UT Ex-Students Association, and UT Chancellor's Council and Headliners Club.
Jack's zeal for athletics took the form of being a varsity basketball player at Thomas Jefferson High in Port Arthur and being a critical but devoted fan of UT athletic teams and supporting them through membership in the Longhorn Foundation.
Jack Elton Keever passed away on July 18, 2004, and was survived by his wife of 43 years, Cynthia, and his two children, Erin and Graham.
Information taken from: Obituary, Austin American-Statesman, July 20, 2004.