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home : opinion : columnist June 3, 2020

5/10/2020 12:01:00 AM
William Keever, A Multitalented Man
William Forrest
William Forrest "Bill" Keever


Paulette Ballard
Guest Columnist


Today’s column is in memory of my friend, Bill Keever. Bill died a few days ago and I can still remember the day we sat in his living room for this interview. 

I asked William F. Keever of Lincolnton, N.C. what was something in his life he would never forget and he told me the following story. I’ve never interviewed a more multifaceted man than Mr. Keever is.

In 1946 Mr. Keever joined what at that time was the Army Air Corp. After training he was sent to Japan as a member of the 5th Air Force assigned to Yokota Air Base - thirty to thirty-five miles west of Tokyo. He said he wanted to fly so bad he could taste it. This was his answer to my question. His job assignment was in Operations and Intelligence and it allowed him the opportunity to work with different pilots and air crews. They knew he wanted to fly so he was given the chance to fly with a pilot one day. They were in an A26 twin engine light bomber that had two seats. Keever sat in the co-pilot seat. They flew north of Tokyo and went up the coast to a bombing range. Keever said he didn’t know at the time that the pilot was going for a dive-bombing practice mission. Keep in mind, this was his first time ever in an airplane. He told me when the pilot took that first dive, his stomach went places he could never have imagined. After doing that a few times the pilot took them back to the air base. He went on to say that on a clear day they could see Mt. Fuji from their base. He said just to see it was a thrill because it was such a beautiful, majestic site. He was in the service for three years and twenty-six months of it was spent in Japan.



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Back at home his mom and dad ran a dairy and chicken farm. Keever was interested in agriculture and took over the dairy farm. In 1951 he moved to his present home on Walker Branch Road. He ran a dairy there for seven years. He then worked for John Deere in Lincolnton for three years then at the Post Office part time until a full time positioned opened. When he retired from there in 1986 he was the Superintendent of Operations. After retiring from the Post Office he moved back to the farm and retired from active farming a few years ago. He said he had always loved farming.

Among Keever’s many talents are authoring three books, being a master woodworker, creating his own railroad track (complete with buildings, trees, tunnels, etc. which takes up an entire room in his home) and learning to play the piano and an organ. He said he was interested in music even when he was in Japan. After coming home he became interested in church music. He was asked to join the choir at his church. He learned to play the piano and several years later an organist was needed at McKendree United Methodist Church. The first Sunday he played was the last of March in 1968. It was supposed to be a temporary position but lasted almost thirty years. He led the choir, selected the music, and played the organ. Keever said he had only missed eight services in twenty-eight years and he’s very proud of that. He then told me he had his own pipe organ upstairs in his home. (That’s a story for another time.)

Over the years he has written and recorded several songs of his own, another of his accomplishments. We talked about his books and I asked him what prompted him to write his first book. He said he saw an article in the Lincoln Times-News written by a man who had been in the service. This man wrote his account of his service years and challenged others in the area to do the same, so Keever did just that. He then went back to some of his personal notes and wrote “A Journey in Time.” This became the anchor part of his first book. All of his books are available at Amazon and on Kindle.

He said he was always interested in railroads. Railroad tracks made a circle around his farm. One day five or six cars turned over in their field and he watched them clean up the chaos it caused. The first story in his first book was called “The Dilemma” about that train wreck.

I noticed a beautiful clock on the mantle and asked him about it. He then asked me to look at the clock behind the chair I was sitting in. It was a tall grandfather type clock that I thought looked oriental. I asked him if it was German or from Japan. He said, “No, it’s a Keever clock and the design has over 4,200 holes cut into different designs.” He had made this gorgeous piece of woodwork himself.

I found Mr. Keever to be one of the most interesting people I have talked with and I look forward to hearing more about his talents.


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