Joseph S. Keelty '44, Emeritus Trustee and W&L Benefactor, Dies at 93
Joseph S. Keelty, an emeritus trustee and member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1944 who established a scholarship at W&L and donated generously to myriad other priorities at the university, died April 10, 2016, at the age of 93.
Keelty, a lifelong supporter of schools and charities, in 1981 endowed the Keelty Honor Scholarship at W&L. The full-tuition award is available to students from Maryland who have demonstrated exemplary achievement in academics, extracurricular activities and service to others. The Keelty Honor Scholarship has thus far supported the education of 25 W&L students.
Keelty also served as a Washington and Lee trustee from 1983 to 1988, and he demonstrated great generosity as a donor to the Washington and Lee Annual Fund, the Lenfest Center, Wilson Hall, the university’s 250th anniversary celebration and more.
During his time at W&L, Keelty belonged to Delta Tau Delta and Pi Alpha Nu. From 1990 to 1993, he was a member of the board of chapter volunteers for the Baltimore Alumni Chapter. He served as Baltimore chapter co-chair for the On the Shoulders of Giants capital campaign from 1991 to 1995 and as Baltimore chapter honorary chair for the Campaign for the Rising Generation capital campaign from 2002 to 2003.
In 1991, Keelty’s name was added to the Honored Benefactors Wall, joining the names of others who have contributed at least $1 million to Washington and Lee. He was also a member of the Doremus Society, a philanthropic society that recognizes donors who have named Washington and Lee in their estate plans.
Keelty, who was born and raised in Baltimore, graduated from the McDonogh School in 1940. He entered Washington and Lee in the fall of 1940 and attended until the spring of 1942, when he transferred to a wartime accelerated program at Loyola University Maryland.
Keelty enlisted in the U.S. Navy in June 1942, and upon graduation from Loyola in 1943 he attended Midshipmen’s School at Notre Dame University. He was stationed in the Pacific Theatre during World War II and, as an officer on a troop transport vessel, took part in a number of military actions in the Philippines, including the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
After the service, Keelty returned to Baltimore and joined the Keelty Co., a homebuilding firm founded by his late father, James Keelty Sr. According to The Baltimore Sun, Keelty and his brother, James Keelty Jr., developed new neighborhoods and constructed high-quality homes in developments surrounding Baltimore. The brothers continued the development of Rodgers Forge, a national historic district just north of Baltimore that their father had started in 1932. They also developed Mays Chapel Village, a large apartment complex in Baltimore County.
Through the years, Keelty directed his philanthropy largely to helping low-income families afford quality education for their children. In addition to his gifts to Washington and Lee, he gave to Stevenson University and the McDonogh School. He founded a scholarship in memory of his parents at Loyola, where he served on the board from 1981 to 1995. Loyola awarded Keelty an honorary doctorate in 1992 and the Carroll Medal in 2002. He also served on the board of the McDonogh School.
Keelty is survived by 20 nieces and nephews and by the children of his late companion, Ann Watts Grieves, who died in 1998. A Mass of Christian burial for Keelty will be offered at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 15, at Shrine of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Mount Washington, Maryland.