James Keeran Obituary, Community benefactor and award-winning journalist has died
- john Gibson
James Keeran Obituary, Death – On Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at 4:00 a.m., James F. Keeran, a Bloomington community benefactor and award-winning Pantagraph journalist, died. A Celebration of Life will be held at the McLean County Art Center in Bloomington on Saturday, May 6, 2023, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Donations in memory of James and Gale Keeran can be donated to the Illinois Community Prairie Foundation.
Jim was born in Bloomington, Indiana, on December 1, 1941, to James Fredrickson and Anna Louise (Smock) Keeran. Tracy Keeran of Bloomington and her children, Marissa Eve and Tyler; Adam Keeran (Cheryl) of Catlin and their children, Brodyn, Braxdyn, Brynlee, and Bricelynn; and long-time friend Mary Anne Schierman of Normal are among those who have survived. His wife, Gale Burnett Keeran, died in 2001, as did his sister, Donna Shane, who died just hours before her brother Jim in Mesa, Arizona.
Jim graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1963 and continued his education the following year at Southern Illinois University. He began his 37-year newspaper career in 1965 as a general assignment journalist for The Pantagraph. Before becoming a writer in 1980, Jim worked as an assistant city editor and state editor. In 1984, he was appointed entertainment editor, and after nine years, he devoted the rest of his career to feature writing.
Marquis Who’s Who named Jim a significant feature writer, and he won multiple Associated Press awards for his feature writing, including first place in 1973, 1974, and 1995; second place in 1975; and third place in 1982 for column writing. He also received the Inland Daily Press Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 1978, a United Press International award in 1974, and a third-place Polly Robinson Feature Writing Award in 1991.
Jim grew to popularity in the local theater scene as an actor, director, and patron. He was a member of the Heartland Community Theater and the Community Players. In addition, he prepared and delivered talks about Abraham Lincoln’s life throughout the Midwest. The McLean County Dance Association was created by him and Gale. Jim and Gale Keeran established the Jim and Gale Keeran Performing Arts Endowed Fund through the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation in 2011 to support the dance association and Heartland Community Theater. Jim received the Area Arts Round Table’s Out-of-the-Box Award in 2018.
While not acting or writing, Jim volunteered for a number of Bloomington-Normal organizations. In honor of his wife, he assisted in the establishment of the Gale Keeran Center for Women in Bloomington. From 2013 to 2017, he was the chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Central Illinois Committee, and in the 1990s, he founded a local Planned Parenthood of Illinois Chapter. He belonged to several organizations, including the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Young Men’s Club, the McLean County Arts Center, and the League of Women Voters. Jim’s interests outside of the limelight included book clubs, golf, tennis, travel, cooking, and gardening.