James H. Keene, III

James H. Keene, III

December 23, 1935 – October 17, 2018

Preceded in death by parents, Hannah and James H. Keene, Jr.; sister, Jean DeFrancis. Survived by wife, Ruth Ann (Haley) Keene; children: James Henry Keene, Ruth Ann Keene (Charles R. Ehm), Sarah Bryant Keene, and Martha Augusta Keene; two grandchildren, Ruth Ann Ehm and Elizabeth Ehm; nieces, Lynne Canter and Beverly Holley; many other nieces, nephews, and cousins.

The family will receive friends on Sunday, October 21st from 5pm to 7pm at the West Center Chapel.  SERVICES: Monday, October 22nd at 11am, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 6116 Dodge St.  Interment, Resurrection Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to Opera Omaha or Brownville Concert Series.



  • nathan else Posted October 18, 2018 8:44 pm

    Jim was a significant person in my life and had a profound impact on me. My family and I will miss him greatly. We send our deepest sympathy and condolences to all who are grieving his passing along with us.

  • Ms Allison Posted October 19, 2018 4:29 am

    Please except my condolences. May you find comfort in knowing that your dear one is safe in the memory of God, who will remember every detail about him and bring him back again. John 5:28, 29 gives this assurance.

  • George C. Parkerson Posted October 19, 2018 2:41 pm

    Saddened to read of Jim;s passing. Had many memorable times with Jim while we were members of the Men’s Council of the Omaha Symphony. The Omaha Symphony back in the 70s and 80s may have been the only US orchestra with a “men’s guild”. We never raised the huge amounts of money the Symphony Guild raised every year, but we were there with whatever we could raise. God bless his soul.

  • Jarett Wait Posted October 19, 2018 4:00 pm

    The brothers of Sigma Pi, Cornell University mourn the passing of our dear brother, Jim Keene. Jim is a Sigma Pi legend and hero. Jim carried Mu Chapter on his back for many many years to ensure the fraternity’s ongoing success for future generations. The Directors of the Mu Chapter Alumni Board and Educational Foundation have unanimously elected to name the Memorial Room at the Sigma Pi Chapter house as the “James H. Keene III Memorial Library” in recognition of his tireless leadership and contributions to the fraternity, to the chapter, and to its members.We are all proud to call Jim our brother. Please raise a glass in Jim’s honor! Jevo,
    Jarett Wait
    Alumni President
    Sigma Pi Fraternity, Cornell University

  • Kim LaFontana Posted October 19, 2018 5:43 pm

    For our four years at Cornell, and for the many years since, Jim Keene was a huge presence in our lives. He personified Big Red spirit and his visits to Ithaca were always memorable. Since Cornell we’ve seen Mr Keene be an amazing husband, community leader, dad and grandfather. We love Ruth Ann and all the Keenes and Ehms, and send them our love at this difficult time. Please take comfort in knowing that his memory lives on in so many.

  • john lokke Posted October 19, 2018 6:55 pm

    Thank You Jim for all gave to Opera, Classical Music, and The Brownville Concert Series You will be missed, but your contributions will live on1

  • J.ines Valdivia Posted October 19, 2018 7:01 pm

    Ciento mucho su partida dios lo tenga en su santa gloria para mí y para muchos es y será viendo un gran hombre atento con sus empleados … gracias sr Keen

  • Brownville Concert Series Posted October 20, 2018 6:02 am

    The Board Members of the Brownville Concert Series are all greatly saddened to lose our Founder, colleague, friend and leader for the past 28 years. It was his vision to create the series and Brownville and our lives have been the richer for it. We will endeavor to carry on his legacy well into the future.

  • Jan Chism Wright Posted October 20, 2018 6:13 am

    20 years ago when my husband and I moved from Houston, Texas, we were amazed to discover this Cabaret in the middle of nowhere and to meet Jim & Ruth Keene. We were hooked immediately and were blessed to enjoy so many special moments and fabulous memories at the concerts and with the Keene’s. It has been what has sustained me since I lost Dave. My heart goes out to Ruth and all the family.

  • Jonathan Morello Posted October 20, 2018 9:58 am

    It is deeply saddening to learn of Jim’s passing. I send my heartfelt condolences to Ruth, all of Jim’s family and everyone else mourning this loss. I’m confident when saying I don’t think I will ever meet another person like Jim Keene. When the brothers of Mu Chapter call him a legend, it is not an understatement. Jim was an incredible brother, mentor and friend. His ability to connect with people of all ages was unmatched. He opened up a lot of doors for me personally and I’m incredibly grateful to have had the oppurtunity to know him. I love you Jim and we will never forget you.

    Your brother,

    Jonathan Morello

  • John Haggerty Posted October 20, 2018 10:34 am

    As Jarett so eloquently stated above, Jim Keene is a Sigma Pi Mu Chapter legend. But what I have admired most for the ten years I called him both friend and brother was his devotion to our undergraduate brothers. Jim lived for the opportunity to take a group of young brothers to dinner and share with them his vivid memories of earlier times, both good and bad. He was a natural teacher and a true gentleman. I will miss our frequent quiet talks over breakfast at the Statler. Rest In Peace Jim. You made a difference.

  • Kurt Rasmussen Posted October 20, 2018 1:12 pm

    Jim Keene was an impressive man that led a rich and accomplished life. Some of his many honorable attributes are on clear display in the simple words he penned for his beloved Cornell fraternity. In the following two sentences Jim’s loyalty to the people he loved, generous spirit, appreciation of others, and devotion to a cause bigger than himself, shine through.

    “The opportunity to be a member of Mu Chapter of Sigma Pi is a gift from those who came before you. Add to the gift, and pass it on to those who come after you” Jim Keene ’57.

    His fraternity brothers will desperately miss him.

  • Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano Posted October 20, 2018 9:25 pm

    We are beyond stunned to hear this. We saw Jim just over a week ago in New York, & he graciously boasted to a friend, “This woman sang in my home!” In our world of music, there are few opportunities as great as giving concerts to enthusiastic folk at Brownville, & Jim gave so many of us this beautiful opportunity. What a gift Jim has given his community & many, many artists in classical, pop, cabaret & jazz. Our loving condolences to dear Ruth & their family.

  • Peter Sedivy Posted October 21, 2018 12:27 pm

    Jim was my best role model for how to live a life with integrity, compassion, and inexhaustible positive energy. When I was a 20-year-old in Sigma Pi, he became my first “grown-up” friend. I’m grateful for the time I spent with him both at Cornell and later in life while I lived in Omaha. He will be deeply missed.

  • Paul and Lynette Krieger Posted October 21, 2018 2:37 pm

    Jim introduced Paul and I to Opera, a door that stretched our minds and souls. As a member of the Willa Cather Foundation, we all thank him for sharing Ruth with us and her endeavors to all things Cather. He attended many Cather events and applauded us onward. We will miss Jim and send our caring thoughts to the entire family. He will be missed.

  • John and Katy Haberman Posted October 21, 2018 3:10 pm

    Jim’s Brownville presence was outstanding. He will be greatly missed.

  • Stacy Grantski Posted October 21, 2018 3:25 pm

    May you rest in peace………
    Lord bless his soul.

  • Frank Robinson Posted October 22, 2018 8:06 pm

    Dear Ruth,
    Everyone at the Museum was so sorry to hear this news. Jim was a staunch friend to us, and to all of Cornell, a man of great integrity and character.
    I will never forget my visit to you in Omaha, when you were both so helpful.
    With our warmest greetings,

  • David White Posted October 23, 2018 11:44 am

    Dear Ruth Ann and Family – sincere condolences on your – and our – loss. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

    David White.

  • Jean Paul Simoes Posted October 23, 2018 12:40 pm

    Jim was a force to be reckoned with when it came to keeping the brothers of Sigma Pi in line when necessary, but he always did it as a friend and a brother, regardless of the difference in age. His presence will be sorely missed.

  • Brownville Fine Arts Assn. Posted October 23, 2018 6:22 pm

    In 1989, Jim Keene asked the Brownville Fine Arts Assn. if the organization would help him bring a Concert Series to Brownville. We agreed, and the collaboration fulfilled Jim’s vision and provided this area exposure to world class musicians. Now that we have lost Jim and the Series has grown to form its own entity, the BFAA feels the best way to honor Jim’s memory is to continue to support the Series through both our physical presence and our financial support. At our recent BFAA Board meeting, we pledged to do our best to fulfill that promise.

  • Frank and Pat Dowd Posted October 24, 2018 8:35 am

    We are very sorry to hear of the death of your husband. We admire James’ and your commitment to so many worthy causes
    You will be in our thoughts and prayers .

  • Katherine and Dick Endacott Posted October 24, 2018 6:15 pm

    Oh, Ruth. I’m so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. He,was a,delightful dinner companion at the most recent Governor’s Lecture. Your heart must be broken, and I ache for you loss.
    Our deepest condolences.
    Katherine and Dick Endacott

Sign Guestbook

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *