Stan Keene, who served 30 years at the Columbus Housing Authority including eight as executive director , died July 29 in Columbus. He was 85.
“He was a visionary as far as seeing what needed to be done, getting it done and having a plan to do it,” said Amy Moore, a retired real estate officer who worked with Keene for more than 25 years . “He was a planner.”
Keene was buried in Enterprise, Miss., near his parents, said his daughter, Jennifer Keene Kendrick of Columbus.
He was born Aug. 14, 1931 in Meridian to the parents of James and Flora Keene. After graduating from high school in 1950, he attended Mississippi State University in Starkville where he played football and baseball.
After graduation, he took a job at an insurance company in New York in 1954. He later moved to a second job in Milford, Conn. in 1958 to work at the Milford Redevelopment Agency.
In 1971, Kendrick said her father saw a job posted in Columbus as urban renewal director and applied to Brown Nicholson, then the executive director of the Columbus Housing Authority. “We drove down from Milford and been here ever since,” the daughter said.
Moore said Keene was her immediate supervisor after she started working for the Housing Authority. They worked together on several projects in the city, including moving the TSYS campus downtown and some construction along the Chattahoochee Riverwalk with Community Development Block Grant funds.
“We did some early improvements in the Historic District on the promenade and a lot of those things were with CDBG funds,” Moore said. “We did that for the city as an agent for the city.”
Keene was selected executive director in 1993. Moore said planning for the renewal at the former Peabody Apartments with the Hope 6 grant was during Keene’s tenure. The completed project is now Ashley Station.
Although it was a long range project, some planning also was started at Baker Village. Many people didn’t know that some of the 500 units were public housing units.
“He was a fine man, not only a fine man in what he did in the community,” Moore said. “ I think he was well liked by people that worked for him, his peers and colleagues. He was a generous man. He cared about people.”
Kendrick recalled her father’s work in helping to build the first Child Advocacy Center in Columbus.
Len Williams, the current executive director of the Housing Authority, succeeded Keene shortly after he retired in 2001. Before that time, Williams said he had run into Keene at some state meetings.
“He always had a good reputation,” Williams said. “I knew he had done work on urban renewal. He did a lot of work during his tenure as executive director.”
Outside of the office, Keene was active in United Way, Historic Columbus, Columbus Hospice, the Rotary Club of Columbus and other organizations. “He fell in love with Columbus,” Kendrick said. “He loved Columbus and the community. He just couldn’t give enough of himself to the community. He was such a giver.”
Other than Kendrick, survivors include a brother, Michael Keene of Columbus and a sister, Allison Keene, of Atlanta.