Presiding Elder Robert E. Keesee Profile Photo

Presiding Elder Robert E. Keesee

November 1, 1936 — October 14, 2023


Presiding Elder Robert E. Keesee

Robert Edward Keesee was born November 1, 1936, in Clarksville, Tennessee, the first of five children of the late Robert Ford and Alice “Lucille” Lyle Keesee. He is preceded in death by two brothers: Warren L. Keesee and Oliver F. Keesee.

Rev. Keesee married Gladys Mae Allen on September 7, 1959. To this union three children were born: Robin Elaine, Anthony Saraceno, and Lisa Carol Keesee. His family spiritually nurtured him among the loving family and friends of Martin Chapel AME Church where he accepted Jesus the Christ as his Lord and Savior at the young age of nine. He accepted the call to preach while a member of Lee Chapel AME Church, Nashville, Tennessee under the pastorate of the late Rev. Jesse Boyd. Rev. Keesee was ordained an Itinerant Deacon in 1963 by Bishop Earnest Lawrence Hickman and an Itinerant Elder in 1966 by Bishop Frederick Douglas Jordan. After ordination, he served as Pastor of the following churches: First AMEC (Pegram), Trinity AMEC (Nashville), Allen Chapel AMEC, (Cedar Grove), New Bethel AMEC (Murfreesboro), St. Peter AMEC (Clarksville), Sulphur Springs AMEC(Cunningham), St. Paul AMEC (Chattanooga), St. Paul AMEC (Lexington, KY), Lee Chapel AMEC (Nashville), and Quinn Chapel AMEC (Louisville, KY).

In 1999, Bishop H. H. Brookins appointed Rev. Keesee as the Presiding Elder of the Kentucky Conference. He served as Presiding Elder of the North Nashville District of the Tennessee Conference from 2014 until his retirement in 2021.

Rev. Keesee prepared himself for God’s work both theologically and academically by earning a Bachelor and Master of Arts Degree from Tennessee State University, a Bachelor of Divinity from American Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master of Religious Education from Scarritt College at Vanderbilt Divinity School. He received honorary Doctorate degrees from Shorter College, Little Rock, Arkansas and Payne Theological Seminary, Wilberforce, Ohio. Rev. Keesee was a prolific writer and published the following books: The History of the AME Church in Tennessee, The History of the East Tennessee AME Churches, compiled and republished- The Minutes of the First Annual Session of the East Tennessee Conference of the AME Church, The Christian Year and Some Symbols of Our Faith, 1979 and Bird’s Eye View of the Black Methodist and United Methodist Denomination, 1989.

Rev. Keesee’s ministerial gifts have always blessed the communities where he served, ecumenical circles and African Methodism. He was president of the following: Tri-Methodist Fellowship, Lexington, Ky, from 1989-1994; Ecumenical/Interracial Minister’s Union, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the Black Methodist, Louisville, Kentucky Area. Rev. Keesee was the Professor of Homiletics at the American Baptist Theological Seminary. He also served as Dean of Minister’s Institute of the 13th Episcopal District. Rev. Keesee initiated the renaming of 9th Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee to M.L.K. Boulevard. He was instrumental in renaming a portion of Eighth Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee to Rosa L. Parks Boulevard, and was on the official program for the Commemorative Bill signing at the Tennessee State Capitol.  Rev. Keesee has traveled in the interest of African Methodism throughout the United States, the Caribbean and Africa. He has visited the Holy Land twice, lectured in South Korea (1985) and Japan (1987) at the World Conference of Interdenominational Clergy. He was a recipient of various honors including the Governor’s Outstanding Tennessean Award; Outstanding Community Leader Award- Murfreesboro/Rutherford County, Tennessee; Leadership Award, Billy Graham Crusade; Outstanding Community Service Award, Nashville, Tennessee; Distinguished Citizen and Key to the City, Chattanooga, and the 1996 YMCA Adult Black Achiever Award, Louisville, Kentucky.

Rev. Keesee served for 18 years on the Board of Trustees at Payne Theological Seminary. He was a member of Prince Hall Masonic Lodge #51, Life member of the NAACP, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Rev. Keesee loved the AME Church. He enjoyed being a part of the services at Lee Chapel AME Church until his health declined.

On October 14, 2023, his baby daughter’s birthday, he left his earthly home for his heavenly reward.

Those left to cherish his memory, a devoted wife of 64 years Gladys M. Allen Keesee; two daughters: Robin and Lisa Keesee; son, Anthony Keesee; granddaughter, Natasha(Reginald) McLaurine I; grandson, LaDarrius Crump, Sr.; six great-grandchildren: DuJuan Lewis, LaDarrius Crump, Jr., Reginald McLaurine II, Damien Mackey, Amari McLaurine, and Cashtyn Crump; sister, Dora Keesee Brown; brother, James H. Keesee; sisters-in-law: Betty Keesee, Dorothy Keesee; nieces: Cynthia (Solomon) Robinson, Katina Brown Thomas, Kimberly Walton, and Marissa Brown Jennings; nephews: Lamar Keesee, Christopher (Patrina) Brown, Eric (Sheronda) Keesee, Kenneth (Lanet) Keesee, Steven (Tracey) Keesee and Eugene Storey, Jr.; a host of great nieces, nephews, and cousins; special friends: Richard and Nola Holder, Rev. Troy Merritt, Rev. Elmer Martin, Calvin Robertson, Rev. Samuel and Evangeline Davis, and Sarah Adkins.


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Past Services


Tuesday, October 24, 2023

12:00 - 7:00 pm

Lewis & Wright Funeral Directors

2500 Clarksville Pike, Nashville, TN 37208

Family Present 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.

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Celebration of Life

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Starts at 12:00 pm

Lee Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church

1200 Dr DB Todd Jr Blvd, Nashville, TN 37208

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