Obituary: William Robert Keen, Jr |

Obituary: William Robert Keen, Jr

William (Billy) Keen

Billy was born on St. Simons Island, Ga., on Jan. 15, 1961, to Hazel Redding Keen and William Robert Keen. He grew up surfing, skateboarding, fishing and hunting with his father – all things that he continued to enjoy during his adult life. His family moved to Hattiesburg, Miss., for junior and high school, where he learned to canoe. That began his love for whitewater. He grew up racing canoes on the many eastern rivers, bringing home several trophies in both open boats and C1 (decked canoe – similar to a kayak).

After graduation from Mississippi State with a degree in chemical engineering, he decided that he could not yet settle into a career. He then began to guide on the Nolichucky, Ocoee, Gauley, New and Nantahala during the summer and fall, spending his winters at Copper Mountain, working at Club Med, skiing 100+ days a year – literally the perfect life of a ski bum.

One trip down the Gauley in October, Billy met a young female raft guide creating instant chemistry. Carol moved out to Colorado in January and they married at Sapphire Point in April 1991. After a season of moving to the East to guide then back to Copper Mountain to be on-site property managers, he settled down and stayed in Colorado, calling Copper home for the next 10 years. After his son was born, he decided to spend his spare time on the rivers in a raft – eventually adding three little girls to the crew on the boat. He was fond of the calmer Upper Colorado and overnight camping when the kids were young but as they grew up on the river – they sought out the Blue River during the short season. This was Billy’s favorite stretch of river in the West – short, fast, fun and close to home. This season alone he put in over 50 runs in a raft on this stretch.

He loved the water – in any form – ocean, river, lake or snow. He did it all – scuba diving, surfing, paddling canoe or raft, guiding, fishing, hunting goose and duck and teleskiing and snowmobiling on the frozen version.

He started a contracting business, and built the family home, as well as many remodels at Copper and around the county. He was a man of all trades – he could fix anything, build anything, and had so much confidence and loved to share his knowledge with anyone that wanted to play or learn. His kids are amazing tributes to him, and will be part of the legacy he leaves behind.

His father, William Keen and sister Cynthia Keen preceded him in death.

He leaves behind his mother, Hazel Redding Keen of St. Simon’s Island, Ga.; sister, Alyssa Marion Shepherd of Eugene, Ore.; wife, Carol; son, Jeremy – 17; and daughters Katelyn – 12, Loren -12, and Maison – 10 of Dillon.

Billy passed away on the Blue River on July 14 and his loss is unbelievable.

A celebration of life service will be held at the Grand Hall, East Village, Copper Mountain on Thursday, July 21, at 5:30 p.m. and the family hopes to spend time sharing stories of his amazing life while supporting each other during this time.

A memorial fund has been set up for his children at Wells Fargo Bank in Frisco.

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