In Memoriam

Kenneth Keaton (1927-2007)

Kenneth Keaton, a long-time professor of German at Eckerd College who made a key stand for racial integration in Florida higher education, died last month after heart surgery at a hospital in Tampa. He was 79 years old.

Keaton, a white man who was a native of Owensboro, Kentucky, fell in love with the German language while serving in World War II. Upon returning to the United States he pursued German studies at Georgetown College and later earned a master’s degree at the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Keaton took a teaching post at Florida Presbyterian College, which has since changed its name to Eckerd College. In 1962 Keaton encouraged a black student at a nearby community college to apply for admission. When the black student was denied admission because of his race, Keaton organized the faculty who threatened to resign en masse unless the black student was admitted. The trustees of the college then agreed to racially integrate the institution.

Keaton retired in 1995 after teaching German at Eckerd College for 35 years.