Published December 30, 2010
DUBLIN — C.B. Keene, age 97, was ordained as a deacon at Jefferson Street Baptist Church in Dublin on Sunday, Dec. 12. Deacon chairman Frankie Bracewell commented, “This is a great thing for a wonderful, very deserving gentleman. He has proved his consistent dedication through the years. He has been a faithful Sunday School teacher, and he is at the church every time the door is opened.”
Jefferson Street allows anyone from the congregation to nominate a candidate for deacon. This year the church selected five men out of a field of ten candidates and Keene was one of the top voter getters.
Keene was born on Dec. 1, 1913 and although he joined the church and was baptized as a young boy he stated, “I really didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus until 1978. Everything was different after that.”
In 1980 Keene started teaching Sunday School at Jefferson Street and continued to teach until 2000. Regarding his nomination as a deacon, the nonagenarian mused, “I thought it was a little late in coming, but if that is what the Lord wants, I am available. I don’t think there is any such thing as retirement from the Lord’s work. But, I must admit that I was rather surprised when I was chosen to serve.”
Keene started working at a chain grocery store when he was 12 years old and continued in that profession for more than 20 years. He then returned to Dublin, where he entered the wholesale produce business, retiring in 1973.
Many believe that a long life can be traced to heredity or good genes, but in Keene’s case it is difficult to tell. His mother died of tuberculosis, a disease easily curable today, when Keene was only six years old. His father died a relatively young man as the result of an accident. The newly elected deacon stated, “I had a wonderful stepmother and a sister seven years older than me and they were a blessing to me during those early years.”
Keene and his wife, Stella, were married for 70 years and one month before her death in November of 2003. Ted Jarriel, vice chairman of the deacons, recalled Stella as “a wonderful Christian lady and a faithful, loving wife who was a good example to others.”
Jarriel added, “I don’t know why Brother Keene has not become a deacon before now. I think it is because he is the kind of man who is quiet and works behind the scenes. But that doesn’t mean he is not devoted. He is the kind of man who knows how to lead and he knows how to follow.”
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