July 23, 1930 – Vulcan, AB, Canada
November 12, 2014 – Calgary, AB
R. Keith Alexander was born in Vulcan, Alberta on July 23, 1936. He was the first of five children born to Robert and Laverne Alexander. They moved to Calgary early in Keith’s life where he began to distinguish himself as a scholar and athlete. Keith was given a few golf clubs by a friend of the family when he was a young teenager and so discovered a passion that would continue for the rest of his life. His legendary focus and relentless hard work paid off in a golf scholarship to the University of Colorado from 1953-1956. While carrying a straight A average, he collected several golf accolades including a Big Seven conference title and two All-American citations. During that time Keith had a son, Rob, with his then wife, Helen Slipetz. After graduating with multiple honors including the outstanding male graduate in journalism that year he took his family back to Calgary. Keith worked in journalism for a brief time before settling in as a stock broker. He and Helen had their second child, a daughter, Susan.
Keith always had a strong Christian faith planted by his mother Laverne and this faith guided him through his life. He studied at the Christian Training Center established by B.G. Leonard in the early 50’s and was ordained as a minister in 1952. He served in some way in every community and every church he joined. He was a good and faithful servant of the Lord.
Meanwhile, Keith’s success on the golf course continued. He won the Canadian Amateur Golf Championship in 1960, which got him an invitation to The Masters where he played his first round alongside Byron Nelson. Keith was named Calgary’s athlete of the year in 1961. Over time he also won the City of Calgary amateur 8 times, the Calgary Open 5 times and the Tournament of Champions 5 times. In provincial competition he won 6 Alberta Amateurs – the only Albertan to win the title over the span of 4 decades. Keith represented the province 25 times on the Willingdon cup team, being the medalist 4 times and being on the winning Alberta team 4 times. He represented Canada on its world amateur team 6 times, the Americas Cup team 5 times ( winning in 1965) and 3 Commonwealth Cups- winning in 1971. He was named to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 1986 as well as the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame the same year.
Keith was also committed to bringing the winter Olympics to Alberta. He was part of the group that put together a bid for Calgary/ Banff to be host in the 60s. He would be disappointed in this quest through three applications. He was awarded Honorary Membership in the Calgary Olympic Development Association in 1987 for “meritorious service and unselfish dedication of time and effort pursuing the objectives of the association”. He was very delighted when the fourth bid brought the 1988 winter Olympics to Calgary.
Keith married a second time in June, 1970 to the love of his life, Vanessa. He always marveled that such a beautiful woman, both inside and out, would marry a “guy like him”. They began a long and fulfilling life together, blending Vanessa’s children – Marc, Jonathan and Andrea with Keith’s children into a family. Two years later they added a daughter, Jennifer, to their family.
Keith continued to golf but politics attracted his attention after moving to Edmonton in 1976 to run the Dominion Securities office. He ran for the Alberta legislature in 1982 and won by a landslide, being elected as the MLA for the Edmonton-Whitemud district 1982-1985. He graciously resigned his seat in 1985 to allow Premier Don Getty a seat in the legislature. Keith stayed engaged in politics for many years and was always ready to bring his sharp mind and tremendous debating skills to the political arena.
When Keith and Vanessa returned to Calgary from Edmonton, after his retirement from Dominion Securities in the early 1990’s, they took some time to find the ideal spot for their home. They started in the snazzy Mission district but kept moving ever southward to a lake community near Midnapore, before settling into their beloved home in the foothills near Dewinton. When health issues began to take hold, they moved back to the city into the Bayview neighborhood. They made and kept many friends along the way. They were valued community members and dearly loved wherever they went. Keith was heartsick when Vanessa had to move to a care facility but he remained ever faithful to her and to their union, going to see her each and every day. Their faithful friends were a great blessing and support system through this difficult time of their lives.
Keith himself was ill for several years before his passing although many were surprised to hear that. He soldiered on. He moved to Trinity Lodge in the last years of his life to be as near to Vanessa as he could. That was one of his trademark characteristics. He said he would love her until death do us part and that was very evident to all who knew them at Chinook Care Center. Keith spent the last 2 months of his life in Chinook Care Center, a few doors down from Vanessa. On their last days together they were in the same room. He was there when she went home to be with the Lord. The next morning he told the nurses he was ready and said goodbye. A simple ending to a spectacular life. He went home to be with God that day at 5:30pm, November 12, 2014.
Funeral Services for both beloved people will be held at First Alliance Church (12345 – 40th Street S.E.) on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Chinook Hospice, 1261 Glenmore Trail S.W., Calgary AB T2V 4Y8, Telephone: (403 258-0040. The family wishes to express deep gratitude to the loving care from all staff at Chinook Care Center.
In living memory of Vanessa and Keith Alexander, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Park Memorial, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Calgary, AB, T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.Print This Obituary & Condolences