Dennis Janson is a retired sports anchor for WCPO.
Since his passing last week at the age of 63, there has been a steady stream of tributes to Bill Keating Jr. Those who took the time to read them have expressed amazement at his many and varied pursuits.
Besides his role as senior partner at the law firm of Keating, Meuthing and Klekamp, devoted husband, father, grandfather and son and brother, Billy was involved with countless boards, committees and campaigns. One outreach however has gone unmentioned until now. And it was one he always found noteworthy whenever we ran into each other: A link to my alma mater, Elder High School.
It started innocently enough in 2006. Bill was attending a swim meet (one of his favorite pastimes), when he happened upon Elder swim coach John Book. As John recalled it recently, "Bill introduced himself, which wasn't really necessary. The Keating name is, after all, synonymous with swimming. And then he really floored me when he blurted out that he wanted to coach at Elder. He asked to volunteer as an assistant coach."
"Why," I asked "would a St. Xavier grad want to pitch in at Elder?" He replied, "They don't need me at St. X. They've got a slew of coaches. And I've always admired the spirit, perseverance and heart of Elder guys. Hopefully I could be helpful."
Book was a little stunned: Bill Keating Jr., obviously a fan of the sport and a guy whose family name was on natatoriums and swimming venues, wanted to be an assistant coach at Elder? The same Panthers who didn't have a home pool? Over the years, they had practiced at Mt. St. Joseph's, Cincinnati State, Taft High School. But finally found a permanent spot at UC's Keating (naturally) Natatorium.
And so it went for seven seasons. Bill Keating Jr., serving as a volunteer assistant for the Elder Panthers. An association he was obviously proud of. He would wear an Elder swim cap during his daily workouts at the Queen City Club, to the unmitigated consternation of many fellow St. X Bombers who populate the club's membership. "Just to get them riled up," he'd say.
Two months ago, Bill called John Book, to thank him for the opportunity to coach at Elder. "I knew then that whispers inside the close-knit swimming community about Bill's health were true. That this would not end well. But he wanted to say good-bye. Of all the things he had on his mind, to think that he took time to do that is nothing short of remarkable and speaks volumes to the man he was."
My deepest personal condolences to Bill's wife, Joan, their children and the entire Keating family. He was a good, good man.
Visitation is today, Friday, April 7, 2017, from 4 to 7 pm at St. Xavier High School, 600 W. North Bend Rd. Funeral Mass is Saturday, April 8, 2017, from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm at St. Francis Xavier Church, 607 Sycamore St., Downtown.