Graeme McGregor Keith was welcomed home on March 31, 2023 with shouts of adulation and triumphant celebrations as he entered the gates of heaven, embraced in the loving arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For those of us left behind, we grieve, but we grieve with hope, knowing that one day we too will be reunited, worshiping Jesus with him.
Graeme was born November 12, 1932, in Greenwood, South Carolina, the son of William Calhoun and Lucille Harvey Keith, and brother to his best friend, the late William “Bill” Harvey Keith.
Graeme entered this world with God-given curiosity, charm and charisma, a drive and a spirit for excellence, the ability to make friends that transcended space and time, and was the ever-enduring epitome of a southern gentleman.
Graeme graduated from Greenwood High School and later attended Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, on a full athletic scholarship. There he displayed his talents both on the golf course and as the captain of the Davidson Wildcats basketball team. Ever the purser of excellence, his eyes met that pinnacle the day he crossed paths with Gloria Ellen Dowd one fateful evening on the campus of Queens College. They were married on December 12, 1954 at Myers Park Methodist Church in Charlotte. Gloria was the crown jewel and love of Graeme’s life for 63 years, and as she herself penned, “their love was set in eternity,” and into eternity they shall reunite. Gloria was called home into the arms of her loving Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on August 30th, 2017.
Graeme served in the United States Army as 1st Lieutenant from 1954 to 1956 and in May of 1956, Graeme embarked on a career in banking that would eventually position him to become the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of a British bank’s major U.S. subsidiary, BarclaysAmerican. Prior to that, he served faithfully for 17 years with First Union National Bank as City Executive and Regional Executive Vice President in Durham, Greensboro, and Charlotte. Graeme’s experience in the North Carolina market poised him to venture south to expand and grow the Georgia banking market. There, Graeme held the position of President for Georgia Railroad Bank & Trust Company as well as Vice Chairman of First Railroad & Banking Company.
However, it was a fateful day in February 1989 when he and his first-born son, Graeme (Greg) McGregor Keith, Jr. decided to step out in faith and build something together that even their dreams could not comprehend. Their desire was to honor God and glorify Him forever. This manifested itself in the business they founded, The Keith Corporation, a privately-held, full-service commercial real estate firm. Their client portfolio includes a wide range of companies including multinational Fortune 500 corporations, top-rated hospitals, Department of Defense contractors, industry giants, and fast-growth startups. For the past 34 years, Graeme and his team have delivered the highest level of quality, service, commitment and excellence to their clients. What a joy it was for Graeme to know that what started as a step of faith with Greg would be a legacy that would carry on from one generation to the next, now with two of his grandsons as a part of the business.
This same level of excellence and desire to serve carried over to all aspects of Graeme’s life, including his civic endeavors and philanthropic ventures. Graeme was an active member and elder at his church, Myers Park Presbyterian Church. Graeme also served as Board Emeritus for Samaritan’s Purse as well as Board Emeritus for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Graeme later served as Elder of Moments of Hope Church. He was honored to be the Director of The Good Fellows Club and Trustee for the Metropolitan YMCA of Greater Charlotte.
Further investments to his community included Board of Trustees for Southeast Bankcard Association; Civilian Aid to the Secretary of the Army for the State of Georgia; Board of Trustees for Augusta Preparatory School; President for the Augusta Chamber of Commerce; Chairman and Corporate Marketing Committee for American Bankers Association; President’s Advisory Council for the Medical College of Georgia; Chairman for St. Joseph Hospital; Director for First Financial Management Corporation; Treasurer and Member of the Executive Committee for Charlotte Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of the YMCA’s many Capital Campaigns; Chairman of Capital Campaigns for both his alma mater, Davidson College, and his beloved wife’s alma mater, Queens University; President of Charlotte City Club; Vice President for University Research Park; Board of Directors for First Union Bank; Board of Trustees for Arts & Science Council; Director for Presbyterian Hospital Foundation; Director for Foundation for the Carolinas; Board of Trustees for The University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Board of Trustees, Chairman, and Head of Development Committee for Davidson College; Chairman of the 1996 Carolinas Billy Graham Crusade; and Board Chairman for Communities in Schools of North Carolina.
Graeme was also a recipient of the John R. Mott Award for YMCA of Greater Charlotte; Davidson College Distinguished Alumni Association Award; Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from Queens University; and the Charlotte Ethics in Business Award for The Keith Corporation.
More than the business affiliations, memberships, honors, and awards, Graeme was first and foremost a family man. His legacy that will last longer than any of the accolades collected over the course of his lifetime are the shining stars in the trophy case of his heart: his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to whom he is more affectionately known as “Pop.” Today, each one carries the light of Graeme that will be passed down for generations. He lived and taught integrity, character, faithfulness, kindness, hard work, chivalry, friendship, love and forgiveness.
Graeme was a great friend. He saw into the heart of everyone he met, making them feel as if they were the only person in the world. He valued people, he valued their time, he valued their talent, and he sought to bring out the best in everyone. Whether picking up his dry cleaning or speaking to the President, Graeme treated everyone with respect and was an image-bearer of God.
Pop lived a full life. He was a blessed man, loved and admired by family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances alike. He now rests in peace having run the race well. No matter what challenges he faced, Pop knew God to be good and sovereign, working all things to the good of those called according to His purposes. So Pop pressed on to that blessed shore. He has been welcomed home safely to harbor in the arms of Jesus, rejoicing and singing with his beloved wife, Glo, and his dear friends who traveled before him. Pop has now heard the words of Jesus sweetly spoken, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Those left behind do not grieve without hope. Pop placed his faith in the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ, and one day we will once again be reunited with him in heaven. Pop believed that the Holy Bible was the inspired, divine, and inerrant word of God, and he believed what he read in the Bible to be the absolute truth. Pop believed that God created the world, man sinned, and God, in His great love and mercy, has spent the rest of human history pursuing His people, so much so that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die a sacrificial death on a cross, so that we might be restored and redeemed to a right relationship with Him. Pop knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior and he wanted others to know Him as well.
The family appreciates the attentive care given to Graeme by Hospice and Palliative Care of Charlotte Region. We are incredibly grateful for the devotion and countless hours of his caregivers Patti Johnson, Grace Martinez, Cammi Hayes, Jebolisa Ilukwe and Sergio Morales; for Diana Allen for her many years of devoted service as his assistant and friend; and for his friendships at The Cypress that gave him much joy and laughter.
He will be lovingly remembered by his three children: Graeme (Greg) McGregor Keith, Junior and his wife India Early Keith, Russell Dowd Keith, and Carey Ellen Keith Heberton and her husband Scott Ewing Heberton; eight grandchildren: Dowd Simpson and her husband Webb, Graeme Keith III and his wife Jennifer, Barrett Hughes and her husband Brock, Tanner Girdwood and her husband Thomas, Cody Keith, Ryan Keith, Locke Heberton and Ellie Heberton; and eleven great-grandchildren: James, Willow, Winnie, Mercy and Eden Simpson, Graeme McGregor Keith IV, Holmes (aka Lil’ Mack to Pop) and Baines Hughes, Maggie, Mays, and Bella Grace Girdwood.
We will celebrate the life of Graeme at Myers Park Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 11 am. The family will receive friends following the service in Oxford Hall. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like memorial donations in honor of Graeme McGregor Keith sent to any of the following organizations: Samaritan’s Purse: mail to: Samaritan’s Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607 or online at https://www.samaritanspurse.org; Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Library: mail to: BGEA Library, One Billy Graham Pkwy, Charlotte, NC 28207; The Keith Family YMCA in Charlotte, NC: mail to: YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Attention: Keith Family YMCA, 400 East Morehead St., Charlotte, NC 28202. Condolences may be offered at www.mcewenpinevillechapel.com. As his precious wife penned, “One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.” Graeme McGregor Keith will remain a fond memory in the lives of those he loved for all of eternity.