Donald Dallas Keyes

Born: December 24, 1940
Died: May 19, 2007

Donald Keyes was born in New York City, son of Stanley James Keyes, '36, and Louise Harriet Dallas Keyes. He prepared for Yale at Lawrenceville.

At Yale Don was a resident of Timothy Dwight where he was captain of the college crew. He had a very active extracurricular life at Yale: member of Beta Theta Phi, Dwight Hall (on Community Council), Student Laundry, and board of Ivy Magazine. He earned his crew numerals as well. He spent a summer term at the University of Colorado in 1961.

Don earned his B.E. in Chemical Engineering. Classmate Mike Carr, who roomed with Don for 8 years (at Lawrenceville and Yale), recalls that Don pursued chemical engineering "because of his father's influence" but developed a love for art history during his undergraduate days. This interest led him to an illustrious career in the arts.

Don received his M.A. in 1965 and his Ph.D. in 1973, both in History of Art from the Institute for Fine Arts at New York University.

Don went on to teach art history at Ohio State University (1967-1974), Oakland University (1974-1975), Smith College (1975-1983), and the University of Wyoming (1983-1984). In 1984 he was appointed curator of American paintings and photography at the University of Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, where he served for 17 years until his retirement in 2001. In 1998 Don was awarded a Fullbright Fellowship during which he taught at the University of Rostock in Germany. On his return, he produced an exhibition of East German photography. Don's last museum appointment was as director of the Marietta/Cobb (Georgia) Museum of Art for two years, 2002-2003.

Don organized numerous exhibitions and published many articles, books and exhibition catalogues. These included studies of American Impressionists, art and artists of New Hampshire's White Mountains, 19th century Southern itinerant painter George Cooke, Woodstock painter Andree Ruellan, California Impressionism, European and American photography, "Contemporary Women in the Arts" and "The Genteel Tradition."

Don Keyes was a partner in FiveArts, Inc., a group of Athens developers and arts boosters who founded ATHICA, Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, an artists' collaboration which included a gallery and studios in a renovated warehouse.

Don had an enormous impact on the community of Athens, Georgia. In addition to his curatorship and ATHICA, he was active with the Athens Area Arts Council, the local music scene, the artist-designed bus shelters in Athens, and AIDS Athens and the Mental Health Benefit Auction (for both of which he served as an auctioneer during fund raising events).

Friend and retired University of Georgia journalism professor John W. English eulogized his contributions to Athens: "He was omnipresent and ebullient. He was an engaging lecturer. He was a community builder, which makes his loss profound to our budding arts scene."

"He leaves a real void in this community. He was one of those people who felt Athens was a great place to live and he was one of the people who made it a great place to live," said Sandi Turner, public information officer of the Athens-Clarke County government. "He leaves a tremendous legacy of service to the Athens art community at every conceivable level."

Don died suddenly while hiking in the Grand Canyon on May 19, 2007, with Valerie Aldridge, his wife of 15 years.

Prof. English in his tribute to Don stated that "his enthusiasm was unbounded." "Don," he observed, "had a certain regal presence. His beacon red glasses and his Prince Valiant-cut grey hair were emblems of his style. A big man, he dressed casually, like the academic he was. The irony was that anyone who knew him appreciated his working man's ethos and knew he could be counted on to pitch right in to do whatever physical labor was required. I recently saw him at ATHICA coolly cutting a metal desk with a power saw so that it could be disposed of and recycled."

Classmate John Gerlach recalled our junior year in the Fall of 1960. "Don's Dad was a very active Yale alum and attended all of the football games at the Bowl. The Keyes family gave me, a Midwestern boy, a thorough introduction to tailgating, the fun getting better each week as the undefeated season progressed. His was a great congenial, sharing family. I was truly blessed to be part of that experience."

"Don was," John added, "a winsome soul and lots of fun to have as a roommate and friend then and in later years."

Don was a member of the board of the Atlanta Photography Group and executive director 1988-1992. He was also on the board of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation and had served as its president.

Don had a multitude of hobbies including sailing, travel, music, cooking, riding his motorcycle and dancing. He collected American photography for more than three decades. In his memory, in June the Georgia Museum of Art held a display of photographs in its collection which Don had been instrumental in obtaining for the museum.

In addition to Valerie, a retired secondary school teacher who shared Don's love for the arts, he was survived by their two children and 3 stepchildren: Jennifer and her husband Miles Moorman of Boulder, Colorado; Thomas W. Keyes and wife Ute of New York City; Dan A. Aldridge and his wife Lisa of Atlanta; Trent J. Aldridge of Atlanta; and Matthew P. Aldridge and wife Meagan of Athens. He had 2 grandchildren, Ian Moorman of Boulder and Addison Aldridge of Atlanta. He was also survived by his sister Katherine Tri and her husband Nick of Newberg, Oregon and his aunt Mary Hetherington and godson Dallas Hetherington of Basking Ridge, New Jersey and various cousins, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and his sister Nancy Keyes of Syracuse, New York. His prior marriage to Nancy, his first wife, terminated in divorce.

A memorial serivce was held for Don on June 2, 2007, in Athens. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that contributions be made to Nuciis Space Resource Center for Musicians in Athens or ATHICA.