In Memory of




Obituary for James Murray Keeley

Brevard - James Murray Keeley, a family physician who cared for patients in Transylvania County for over thirty years, passed away on Wednesday, Dec 28, 2022.

Dr. Keeley loved the community he served and never lost his wonder for the power of medicine. He was a small-town doctor who would linger in the examining room to speak with his patients to learn, not just about their ailments, but about them as well. He practiced out of a small Victorian house behind the post office. For most of his career, he employed only his trusted nurse, Sarah Metcalf, whom he saw as family.

Dr. Keeley is preceded in death by his youngest son Andrew and his beloved wife of 55 years, Jo Anne.
“Jim” and Jo Anne, a nurse, met while Jim was completing his internship at the University of Virginia. They married and soon after were stationed to İncilik Air Force Base in southeastern Turkey; there Dr. Keeley served as a Captain in the USAF. In Turkey, Dr. Keeley followed his passion for history and crisscrossed the country on holidays to explore ancient crusader castles. He also demonstrated his lifelong disdain for bureaucracy when he violated Air Force protocols and rendered urgent care to a Turkish civilian--a seriously ill baby.

After completing his military service and residency, Dr. Keeley and Jo Anne scoured the southeast for a suitably small and welcoming town. Upon visiting Brevard, it was love at first sight. From his earliest days, Dr. Keeley was active in the community serving as a Jaycee and joined the Brevard Little Theater. Jim reveled in acting and held many roles both big and small in local productions. One of the most memorable being when he played the uptight Felix opposite a rumpled Oscar, played by Bill Norris, in The Odd Couple.

In the succeeding years, Dr. Keeley and his wife raised four sons and developed a life-long habit of taking long walks through Brevard and the surrounding forests. As the seasons passed, their gait slowed but their presence endured. At 70, Jo Anne developed Alzheimer’s, and Dr. Keeley became a full-time caregiver. In time, Jo Anne no longer recognized her home and, on occasion, the face of her husband. When Jo Anne would become agitated and seek out her childhood residence, Dr. Keeley would allow her to set out rather than frustrate her. Miles and miles she could walk, and miles and miles he would follow, knowing sooner or later she would turn, and then smile, at last recognizing him. Jo Anne passed away in 2017.

Dr. Keeley is survived by his three older sons Dr. Michael (Rhonda) Keeley of Shelby, NC, Scott (Kimberly) Keeley of Pisgah Forest, NC, and Matt Keeley of Erzurum, Turkey; daughter-in-law Kimberly E. Keeley; his second wife Connie Kay Hughes; six grandchildren, Meredith (Brandon) Semel, Madeline (Ben) Scruggs, Anna Blake and Ellen Keeley, Olivia and Calvin Keeley; and three great-grandchildren, Greyson and Keeley Scruggs and Safidy Semel; and sister Jackie Nicoll.

In the final chapter of his life, Dr. Keeley found great joy and solace in his second wife who was a fellow adventurer and jeopardy enthusiast; Connie Kay never failed to elicit a bright smile from the good doctor.

A memorial service will be held for Dr. Keeley at First United Methodist Church on Saturday, Jan 7, 2022 at 3pm.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Friends of the Transylvania Country Library.