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James P. Keeter, 76: Ran His Own Timber Business in His Teens; Lifelong Entrepreneur

Visitation will be Sunday from 5-8 p.m. at Roswell Funeral Home, with a fueral service Monday at North Point Community Church.

James P. Keeter, 76, passed away peacefully at his home in Alpharetta, Ga. with his family by his side on Jan. 20, 2014.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Vester & Ruby Keeter of Bradleyville, MO, and his sister, Donna Martinson of Portland, OR. Survivors include his wife, Julie, four children, Steve, Bradley, Daren, Kaylan Lewis, & seven grandchildren, Michael, Brandon, Stevie Jewel, Eleni, Marie, Grayson Lewis and Adelaide (Della) Lewis.

Mr. Keeter was a native of Missouri, & had a lifelong love of the Ozarks and the people of that region.

He learned early in life about business from his father, who was an early industrial pioneer in southeast Missouri. As a very young teenager, he had his own timber business while attending Kemper Military School & had his mother handle the payroll. Then while still too young to drive, he bought his own Chevy & was supposed to have someone drive it for him. Before long, his friends say he gave them some exciting and harrowing rides over those winding, Ozark mountain roads.

After college at the University of Missouri, he and his dad built their first charcoal plant in Branson, MO. which was then known as Keeter Charcoal Co. There was no job in the plant or office that he did not work himself at one time or another. By the time Keeter Charcoal Company was acquired by Husky Oil Ltd. in 1973, Keeter had a long track record of successful operations management, contract negotiations, and marketing. He became president 11 months later when the charcoal operations of the oil company were organized into Husky Industries Inc., which he later bought in 1983. After a name change in 1986 and much growth, the company became the successful organization it is today, known as Royal Oak Enterprises, LLC.

Keeter's brand of leadership has been born and tempered within the charcoal business. In the business world, Jim Keeter was an entrepreneur. He was a hands-on leader with great foresight. He set high standards for himself and all those who worked with him. He was a thinker and always open to a new idea or venture. Jim believed in hard work, dedication, loyalty, sacrifice, commitment, and reward. He was blessed with an exceptional amount of common sense and never accepted giving up. Strategizing and evaluating were part of his core makeup. He was a pioneer and leader in making the charcoal industry what it is today. Jim touched and affected countless lives during his 76 years. Many were blessed with knowing and associating with Jim Keeter, and indeed, he left a great legacy.

He served as a Trustee at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, MO since 1988, and in the past, served as chairman of the Board of Trustees at the College. He received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the College of the Ozarks in 2010. Jim was awarded the Missourian Award in 1998 for outstanding contributions in business. He was also recognized by Lady Margaret Thatcher as an outstanding entrepreneur on behalf of the Students of Free Enterprise at the College of the Ozarks. Mr. Keeter endowed the Keeter Center for Character Education at the College of the Ozarks. He was a member of the Food Marketing Educational Council, also known as the "Red Coats".

Mr. Keeter had a great interest in land conservation, and a love of wild life, including the buffalo and elk on his Missouri ranch.

Jim had a passion for golf, and was an avid golfer who liked to golf in good weather. Consequently, he had golf memberships all over the weather map to accommodate this hobby. So when winter arrived at Cherokee Golf Club in Atlanta, he might head to Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Monterey Peninsula Country Club or Tehama in California.

There will be a visitation at the Roswell Funeral Home in Roswell, GA on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, from 5-8 p.m. The funeral service will be held Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, at 1 p.m. at the North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA to be followed by the burial at Green Lawn Cemetery in Roswell, GA. Following the graveside service, a reception will be held at the Country Club of the South at 4100 Old Alabama Rd. in Alpharetta, Ga. from 3-7 pm.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Paul Anderson Youth Home,

P. O. Box 525, Vidalia, GA 30475, www.payh.org or to K-Life of Taney County, Youth Program at P. O. Box 441, Branson, MO 65615, or to the College of the Ozarks, P. O. Box 17, Point Lookout, MO 65726. www.cofo.edu

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