John Keck ’53
Entrepreneur, community leader, and longtime NFL referee John Keck ’53 died May 5, 2015. He was 83.
Keck was born in Montgomery, Iowa, but spent nearly his entire life in Des Moines. He majored in economics and business at Cornell, where he first explored entrepreneurship by setting up coin-operated washing machines, dryers, and candy machines. He attended Cornell with his high school sweetheart, Mary Rump Keck ’53. The pair married in June 1953.
He enlisted in the Navy, completed officer training, and, after leaving the service, earned his M.B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1957. He joined Keck Inc., a company started by his father, and started three full-service car washes, along with a petroleum distributorship, convenience stores, and auto-parts stores.
Keck also officiated football and basketball at the high school and college level, and in 1971 was hired by the NFL as an umpire. He served as an umpire for Super Bowl XXX in 1996.
He was deeply involved in the Des Moines community and served as chair of numerous organizations, including Iowa Methodist Hospital, United Way of Central Iowa, Greater Des Moines YMCA, and Petroleum Marketers of Iowa, and as a director of Cemen Tech. Inc., Iowa Health Physicians, Iowa Health Foundation, Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, and Y-Camp. He was inducted into the Roosevelt High School Hall of Fame, the Cornell College Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Iowa Hall of Pride.
He is survived by his wife, Mary, four daughters, 11 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and a brother, William Keck ’60.