Mervin (Mike) L. Keedy Obituary

In March, 2020, we received notice from Nathan Keedy that TAA’s founding member, Mike Keedy, had passed away, just shy of his 100th birthday. Nathan provided his father’s obituary, which we share below, with an expanded section related to Mike’s TAA activities.

Mervin (Mike) L. Keedy Obituary

Mike KeedyDr. Mervin (Mike) Keedy died peacefully at home with his family on March 14. As a math professor it is fitting that he died on pi day, 3.14. Dr. Keedy was born (the oldest of 3 sons) on August 2, 1920 on a farm in western Nebraska of parents: Albert L. Keedy, Jr. and Iva Barney Keedy. As a youth, he loved model airplanes and singing in school and church. He began college at Peru State Teachers College in Nebraska, but as WWII began he moved to Chicago and joined the Army Air Corps where he was trained in meteorology.  He served as a forecaster for US pilots in North Africa and Italy during the war.  After the war he earned a B.A. in meteorology at the University of Chicago. Upon graduation he changed career direction and taught high school math and science in Idaho where he also learned to fly private airplanes.

Pursuing his interest in teaching, Dr. Keedy returned to Nebraska where he earned a PhD in mathematics at the University of Nebraska in 1957. While there he paid for his education by teaching, crop dusting, singing solos for churches, and radio announcing. He also sang in Community Theater. After graduation, Dr. Keedy was hired as the associate director of the University of Maryland Mathematics Project that developed new math curriculum for junior high schools. It was there that he began writing math text books. His series, Exploring Modern Mathematics, was adopted by the state of Florida for all junior highs in the early 1960s.

In 1961, Dr. Keedy became a professor of Math Education at Purdue University (W. Lafayette, IN) where he went on to write over 50 textbooks covering elementary school through college. He was known for his innovation in concise style and active engagement of the reader. He attracted and worked with several co-authors to whom he was happy to teach his pedagogic skills. Throughout this time he flew his beloved Piper Comanche airplane to speaking engagements, publisher meetings, and family visits.

Dr. Keedy retired in 1987 and moved to Florida where he continued his active and creative way of life. He continued his avid interest in flying and built his own airstrip near Ocala at one point. For more recreational and aerobatic flying, Dr. Keedy added his second beloved plane, a red 1937 vintage Waco biplane, to his air collection.

Dr. Keedy also sang in several churches in Florida and was active in the Barbershop Harmony Society. He started a men’s quartet called, Bye Bye Blues. He also composed several songs and wrote manuscripts on barbershop harmony theory. He was a member of the choir at ARP church in recent years. Dr. Keedy’s move to Bartow was in 1993, which became his favorite hometown.

As he began his retirement in 1987, Dr. Keedy started an organization designed to promote and advocate for textbook authors, The Textbook Authors Association, which later expanded to become the Textbook & Academic Authors Association. Dr. Keedy established the original governing documents and mission of the organization with a group of colleagues and friends, and he served as the original Executive Director for the organization. Current Council member Ron Pynn was there with Dr. Keedy from the beginning of the organization, and later also served as the Executive Director for the organization. He writes,

The association had three main goals: better contracts for authors, limit used books or obtain royalties on them, and stop the sale of complimentary copies. Within a few months of forming, TAA had 1000 members and Orange Springs, FL became TAA’s headquarters. Incorporation took place in Florida with three members operating the association: Dr. Keedy, the founder; Paul Anderson, TAA member number 1; and myself. Within a few years TAA was sufficiently stable that Mike and senior members disbanded in favor of a membership based organization run by an elected Council which we have today…As the years went on, Mike’s involvement began to diminish but not his passion for TAA or for supporting authors. He remained proud of TAA and its accomplishments and of its growth. Dr. Keedy has left a lasting legacy for authors and TAA is testimony to Dr. Keedy’s vision and dedication to all text and academic authors.

Dr. Keedy stayed in touch with the organization on a regular basis, initiating several phone calls over the years with current Executive Director Michael Spinella. The last of those calls was in August of 2019, when he shared with Mr. Spinella that he was proud of the progress the organization has made and the work it does for authors. He mentioned his upcoming 99th birthday, and closed the call by saying, “I just wanted to be in touch with my old friends at TAA once more.” We are most grateful for his vision for this organization, and his ongoing interest in our work.

Dr. Keedy is survived by his beloved and devoted fiancée, Leonora Roebke, his sons, Michael (wife, Susan) and Nathan (wife, Jeannine), his grandchildren, Nathan A. Keedy (wife, Sarah), Lillian Thomas, Molly and Rachel Keedy, and his great grandchildren, Samuel and Julia Keedy, Noah Best, and Sylas Bartsch.