Joe Keim will be remembered as someone who never slowed down in his later years -- partly because he never went anywhere very fast. He always had a destination and he always had one more thing he had to get done. But his destinations and his chores never got in the way of taking time for anyone: family, neighbors, and friends. And, for Joe Keim, a stranger was simply a friend he didn’t know yet.
Joe Keim passed away on January. 29th, 2021 on his farm near Davenport, Nebraska at the age of 85. He had spent the morning having coffee with friends, getting a haircut, and driving a friend home from the hospital. His final moments were on his tractor -- where he always felt most at home.
Joe Keim was born at home on another farm near Davenport, Nebraska to John Keim and Mildred (Marshall) Keim on November 19, 1935. When his grandfather Henry Keim died in 1941, his parents moved the family to the farm just west of Davenport on Highway 4. Joe was five, and the house and farm would be his home for the next 80 years.
Joe attended a one-room schoolhouse, the Ranch Country School until seventh grade when it closed. This meant he didn’t have to take the 8th-grade exams in Nelson like his older sister. Instead, he started eighth grade at Davenport Community School in 1947 and graduated from Davenport High School in 1953.
During the winter months, when farm work was slower, he attended the Lincoln School of Commerce in Lincoln, NE. However, his father’s failing health meant that he found himself spending more time taking care of the farm.
Joe met Georgia Lou Bice of Carelton, Nebraska, while in high school. He said she was “Really a good looking gal.” She stole his heart and they married on November 25th, 1956, moving into his parents’ home on the farm as they moved into a place in town.
Their four children, David, Kathy, James, and Patricia were the focus of many of his activities when he wasn’t farming. His children fondly remember nights lit up by combines and grain trucks, sandwiches on a pickup tailgate, and the smell of harvest corn and coffee from a Thermos. They say the land remembers. If it does, the land remembers a man who loved his work as much as his wife, was blessed to share that work with both his father and his oldest son, grew his crops in rows that were as straight and honest as the man himself, and stayed as close to that land as he could for the whole of his life.
His commitments included serving as a member and a few years as President of the Davenport School Board. He was also a member of the Davenport Lions Club and an active member of the Davenport United Methodist Church. Joe described himself as man who “never did much.” But family, neighbors, and friends will remember him as someone who did almost everything -- if there was anything or anyone who needed help.
His greatest joy was spending time with his grandchildren, great-granddaughter, and children of nieces, nephews, and neighbors that he loved like grandchildren.
Perhaps his only regret was not having more time to see them all grow into the kind and caring adults he knows they will be. Joe is survived by his son, David Keim, wife, Janice (Nunnenkamp) Keim, granddaughter Dona Keim, and great-granddaughter, Briella Keim of Sutton, NE; his daughter, Kathy Keim of Bartlesville, OK; his son, James Keim, wife, Christi (Ehresman) Keim, and grandchildren Mason and Ava Keim of Lincoln, NE; his daughter, Trish (Keim) Thorell, husband, Mike Thorell, and twin granddaughters, Elin and Olivia Thorell of Omaha, NE; his sisters Margaret Keim of Lincoln and Betty Keim of Yonkers, New York, his sister-in-law Helen Garrels and husband Dennis Garrels, of Grand Island, NE.
Joe was preceded in death by his wife, Georgia Keim, his parents John and Mildred (Marshall) Keim; and his sister Nancy (Keim) Sanburg and Ron Sanburg of Kansas City; and sister-in-law, Wanda Tegtmeier and brother-in-law, Oscar Tegtmeier of Davenport.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, February 5, 2021 at 1:30 PM at the Davenport United Methodist Church. The service will be recorded and possibilities for a livestream are being explored. Out of respect for Joe’s wishes, the family requests family and close friends who attend to observe social distancing guidelines and wear masks. Extended viewing times will be available on Thursday from 1:00-8:00 at the funeral home in Davenport and again on Friday morning before the funeral for those who wish to avoid contact at the funeral.
Memorial gifts will be designated later in honor of Joe and Georgia Keim by the family to benefit the Davenport community as Joe and Georgia had a long list of things they enjoyed supporting.
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