WILMINGTON — Gerald Christopher ‘Chris’ McKeithan passed away unexpectedly surrounded by family Thursday, March 2, 2017, just before his 70th birthday. Chris was born in Wilmington to Margaret Child McKeithan and Christopher Columbus ‘Kit’ McKeithan March 13, 1947.
He graduated from New Hanover High School in 1965 and attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to become a proud Seahawks fan for life. Chris served in the U.S. Navy on the USS Independence. In 1968, he became the luckiest man in the world when marrying another Wilmingtonian and fellow classmate, Mary Elizabeth LeGwin.
He worked with Wilmington Shipping Company for two years. Chris and his father started Trash Removal Service, one of the first residential solid waste collection companies in our city. Eight years later their company joined Waste Management, where he was district manager until his retirement in August of 2013, after 40 years of service in the trash business. They provided roll out, cart, commercial, roll off, septic and recycling services.
He loved spending his free time fishing, hunting, golfing, and at River Oaks Plantation ‘the Camp’ in Pender County simply enjoying nature’s sweet splendor. He and his adjacent neighbors collaborated efforts for the rehabilitation of turkeys in Pender County since 1993 through the National Wild Turkey Federation.
One of Chris’ greatest joys in life was spending time with his seven grandchildren at the camp or on the Intracoastal Waterway. Riding a tractor, golf cart, Harley Davidson, jet ski, four wheeler (ATV), or backhoe made his heart skip a beat. He was ‘Captain Chris’ of his Pic-N-Up sport fishing boat and relished every minute on the water with his many first mates and family going catching, not fishing.
One had better not sit in his seat come lunch time at his favorite eating spot, Salt Works, where he savored every bite of Bob’s famous hot dogs and omelets with many of his local buddies several times a week. You could often find him on Friday nights at David’s Deli ordering his favorite eggplant parmigiana with extra, extra sauce.
He was a member of the Downtown Wilmington Rotary Club, where he served as president in 1991 and was a Paul Harris Fellow. Chris also served on the board of Ddrectors of Wells Fargo Bank in Wilmington. He was a ‘clean cut Christian’ and member of First Baptist Church of Wilmington for over 30 years.
Chris was preceded in death by his parents and grandmother Emma Child.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Mary Elizabeth LeGwin McKeithan; daughter, Kimberly McKeithan Golder (John), and triplet grandchildren, Jack, Kenleigh and Claire; son, Michael Christopher McKeithan, and grandchildren, Haleigh, twins Kailyn & Makayla, and Sadie; daughter, Kristen Elizabeth McKeithan (by this time Chris told Kristen that the grandchildren count was full!); and four-legged grandchildren, Grace, Skipper and Willie, and his beloved golden retriever, Katie.
Visitation with the family will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at Andrews Market Chapel, 1617 Market St., Wilmington. A celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 8, at First Baptist Church, 411 Market St., Wilmington. Burial will follow in Oleander Memorial Gardens, 306 Bradley Drive, Wilmington.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made in memory of Chris to the Coastal Carolina Chapter of JDRF for Ambassador Kenleigh Golder, 1015 Ashes Drive, Suite 101, Wilmington, NC 28405; First Baptist Church, 411 Market St., Wilmington, NC 28401 for their Fellowship Fund or North Carolina Baptist Missions; or the UNCW Seahawk Club, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403.