WEAVERVILLE – Allen Eugene “Gene” Keil, age 82, of Weaverville, died suddenly of cardiac arrest on Friday, November 11, 2022. Gene was born January 24, 1940, in Farmersville, Ohio to the late Leo Allen and Marie Geiser Keil.
An ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, Gene graduated from Heidelberg College and Eden Theological Seminary. He served for many years as a campus minister at Bowling Green State University. In the late 70’s, concerned about the energy crisis and ahead of his time, he left campus ministry to start his own contracting business focused on increasing energy efficiency in homes. He was employed by BGSU in 1980 as an academic advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences. In the late 80’s, he returned full-time to the ministry, serving as interim pastor at churches in Ohio and Kentucky, assisting congregations in the transition between pastors.
In 2001, Gene and Lucy moved to Asheville, North Carolina, having identified the area as the ideal temperate location to build his passive solar house. After much searching, they purchased a tract of land in Weaverville, which they named the “Hundred Acre Wood”. Gene chose a house site which provided both excellent solar exposure and a view of the Blue Ridge mountains. Gene spent five years building the house, intent on a home that was environmentally responsible, beautiful, and comfortable for their retirement.
In his life, Gene chose to act in ways that bore witness to his faith in Jesus Christ. In addition to preaching in pulpits, he demonstrated his Christianity through kind acts to others, stewardship of the Earth, and advocacy for the rights and needs of all people. To that end, he worked for more than six years as an ACA navigator, helping low-income citizens find affordable health insurance. Every neighbor has told us how much he helped them, from chopping wood and clearing roads, to carpentry advice or sharing his knowledge on building a solar home.
Gene was a man of many interests and great curiosity. He was an early adopter of technology, building his own computers in the 80’s and was in the process of rebuilding a desktop computer the month before he died. He was an avid consumer of information and was always found researching topics online, from politics to electric cars, to the electric grid, to issues of hunger and poverty. In North Carolina, he became an active member of the Sierra Club, and joined the board of the Friends of the Weaverville Library (FOWL). He was instrumental in creating a used bookstore for the library and enlisted friends to help build shelving and create a welcoming space. At First Presbyterian Church, Asheville, he put both his ministry and carpentry skills to work in serving the church.
Surviving Gene are his wife of 57 years, Lucy G. Keil; daughters, Lisa Keil Lagerquist (Mark) of Colchester, Vermont and Trina Keil (Dan Krauss) of Claremont, California; sister, MaryAnn Ahart (John) of Pasadena, California; and grandchildren, Erik and Megan Lagerquist, and Jared and Alex Krauss. Gene loved being a grandfather and was extremely proud of all four of his grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church, Asheville at 3:00 pm on December 10, 2022, with the Reverend Dr. Patrick Johnson officiating.
Condolences may be offered to the family under Gene’s obituary at www.westfamilyfuneralservices.com. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Gene’s honor to Pisgah Legal Services or the Sierra Club.