Gary Keehner first became acquainted with ΣAE 55 years ago while in pre-dental studies (Zoology major) at the University of Washington (Wash. Alpha). “I pledged as a junior in 1959 and lived in the fraternity house where I worked in the kitchen for room and board,” he said. “Later I also served as Chapter Chaplain.”
After attending dental school for a year, Brother Keehner decided becoming a dentist wasn’t the best career choice. Upon graduation with a Zoology degree in 1962, he worked at the Dow Chemical and Memorex Corporations. But interested in expanding his future opportunities, Gary decided to pursue a chemistry degree at San Jose State University. “I thought this would eventually open more employment doors,” he said.
The chemistry degree gave Gary the added background necessary for a new job with Hewlett Packard (HP) where he would spend his 41-year career. He began working as a salesman of HP’s specialized lab equipment used to perform chemical analysis at hospitals, universities, drug testing labs, environmental and other facilities. However, he was soon appointed Regional Analytical Manager for sales, service and technical support in the 11 Western states, Alaska and Hawaii; based in North Hollywood and later in San Diego. He was able to combine his education with sales and technical expertise. “Having the chemistry background enabled me to look at specific problems that scientists and others were facing and help design solutions,” he explained.
In addition to overseeing the sales and support staff, Gary had the opportunity to be involved with some interesting applications. “For example, I was the HP management point person for the UCLA drug testing lab at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. And during the 1995 America’s Cup in San Diego, I was on the HP sponsorship committee that supported the A3 women’s crew.”
Gary retired in 2008, but wasn’t ready to slow down. He was soon participating in a wide range of organizations, including the Professional Men’s Society of La Jolla, USC San Diego Trojan Club, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, The Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe, and the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. “Giving back is important to me. I learned that early on from observing my parents helping within their community.”
He also reconnected with ΣAE.“I really enjoyed my experience as an undergrad. When I moved to California and got busy with my career, I didn’t have sufficient time to spend with ΣAE alumni groups.Then in 2000, I received a call from a San Diego investment company representative and during our conversation learned that we were both ΣAEs. He told me about the high energy, well-run San Diego Alumni Association and its President, Dick Troncone. I decided to join and have been involved ever since.”
Gary attended his first ΣAE luncheon and then became a regular at the lunch programs, Founders’ Day and other functions. In addition to helping out at various events, he was recently elected to the San Diego Alumni Association Board of Directors. “I love the camaraderie and the chance to contribute to the Association,” he said. He is also a regular donor to the national ΣAE Foundation.
Gary’s busy retirement schedule also includes helping to take care of his 95-year old mother-in-law. His other outside interests have included extensive traveling with his wife, Irene; their annual Maui vacation with son Shane and daughter Laura; reading; tending his rose garden; and until recently, playing tennis and running. “I was a good tennis player and won the University of Washington Intramural Tennis Championship in 1960,” he said. “However, my knees gave out running 10K races and playing tennis, so the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club membership now only includes the beach activities.”
As Brother Keehner starts his new role on the Alumni Association Board, he is glad to have reestablished his ties with ΣAE 15 years ago and emphasizes that it’s never too late to become a member.“The time was right to be associated with my fraternity again. I look forward to many more years of enjoying time with the Brothers.” ~ By David Robinson