Mary Keifer

ATHENS – Mary Carter (Loth) Keifer, 73, of Athens, Ohio passed away on Aug. 4, 2020 at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital in the early afternoon. She was in hospice surrounded by her loving family at the time of her death.

She is survived by her husband, John Keifer; her daughters, Marcy Keifer Kennedy, Lisa Keifer, Kate Keifer, and Mary “Kristin” Diki; her sons-in-law, Terry Walburn, Chris Kennedy, and Simon Diki; her grandchildren, John-Edward Keifer, Storm Walburn, Eli Kennedy, Kateyanne Walburn, Dawson Kennedy, Maya Diki, and Bruno Diki; and her lifelong friends, Page Shields of Harrisonburg, VA; and Mary’s cousin, Anne Tullidge Bell of Richmond, VA. She is also survived by her brother, Carter “Lewis” Loth, Jr. and her sister-in-law Sally Loth of North Chesterfield, VA and their children, her nephews, Nick Loth and Patrick Loth, and her nieces, Sarah Loth and Emma Loth (dog).

She was preceded in death by her father, Carter Lewis Loth; her mother, Anne Crathorne Loth; and her infant brother, Robert Crathorne Loth.

Mary was born in Charlottesville, VA on Sept. 21, 1946, raised in Staunton, Virginia, and graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1964 where she served as senior class secretary. She graduated from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1968 where she studied mathematics, served as student body president her senior year, and for whom one of two benches was dedicated in her honor at her 50th class reunion. Following graduation, Mary then attended the University of Virginia Law School in Charlottesville, VA as part of the first group of women to attend that school, which had been previously restricted to male students only. It was there that she met and married her husband John who was also in attendance at the time. Mary graduated in 1971 as a member of The International Legal Honor Society of Phi Delta Phi and as a new mother with the birth of her firstborn daughter Marcy just days before graduation.

Mary moved to Ohio and was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1971. She practiced a short time in Toledo for the Toledo Legal Aid Society and gave birth to her second daughter Lisa before moving to Athens in 1974, where she gave birth to her third daughter Kate and her fourth and final daughter Kristin. Mary began teaching business law part-time for the Ohio University College of Business in 1975 and accepted a permanent position on its faculty in 1980. She was an Associate Professor of Business Law, served twice as the Chair of the Management Department, and oversaw the College of Business Honors Tutorial students for a period of years. Mary was forced into permanent retirement in August 2016 when she was hit by an automobile while walking to her car.

During her career, Mary also served as a member of the Board of Southeastern Ohio Legal Services, as a member and president of the Athens City School District Board of Education, as a member of the Athens Recreation Advisory Board, as a member of the Community Review Board for Athens County Children Services, and as an NCAA Faculty Representative for the Ohio University Athletic Department.

Mary gave all of herself to her husband, her four daughters, her seven grandchildren, and her thousands of students over 41 years of teaching. Her dedication as a wife was best reflected in the loving patience and constant care she showed an ornery, restless man over nearly 50 years of marriage (their 50th wedding anniversary would have been celebrated this Aug. 29, 2020). Her dedication as a mother and grandmother was best reflected in her willingness to work hard and sacrifice her own wants and needs (including sleep) to afford her children and grandchildren every opportunity and to help them through their own struggles, even when they made it difficult for her to do so. Her dedication as a teacher was best reflected in her continued teaching while undergoing radiation treatments on her throat and mouth following cancer surgery.

Her genuinely positive and loving presence is best captured by a statement from the Dean of the Ohio University College of Business, Hugh Sherman, upon learning of her death:

“Anyone who has had the pleasure of knowing Mary through the years would agree that she was the most caring individual this College has had, at least since 1975 (when she joined the College).

She was a dedicated teacher who was always there for her students. She won several teaching awards and was the Chair of the Management Department.

Mary is a model to us all of what a good human being can strive to be – a person who only thought positively about others, and had a positive impact on everyone she came in contact with.”

Mary cared most about being the person God wanted her to be. She lived her life in service of others. She gave generously, and many times, anonymously. She let all that she did be in love.

Pursuant to her wishes, her body was donated for medical education purposes. A celebration of her life will be planned at some time in the future when conditions permit.

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