Cover photo for Dr. Robert Hayward Keenan's Obituary
1929 Doc 2023

Dr. Robert Hayward Keenan

March 3, 1929 — November 11, 2023




Dr. Robert Keenan of Marion, North Carolina went to be with his heavenly father on Saturday, November 11, 2023 following an extended illness.


Robert (Bob, Doc or Reggie) was preceded in death by his son David Robert Keenan and his brother Larry Keenan.  He has two living children, Susan Keenan of Alpharetta, Georgia and Betsy Denning of Waxhaw, North Carolina.  He also has four grandchildren, Maxwell Keenan and Natalie Keenan of Atlanta, Georgia and Izzy Bates and Jack Emerman of Waxhaw, North Carolina.  


Robert was born in Akron, Ohio to Bob and Marjorie Keenan on March 3, 1929. He grew up in Ohio.  His family moved to Tampa, Florida and he joined the United States Army for a short time and then the United States Air Force. He went to flight school and was a member of the 12th Fighter Bomber Squadron and flew an F-86 bomber in the Korean War.  After his service, he went back to Tampa and enrolled in The University of Florida where he obtained his degree in Pharmacy.  He practiced pharmacy for four years and then decided he wanted to be a dentist. Robert then moved his family to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and completed dental school at UNC Chapel Hill.  When he graduated, he moved his family to Marion, North Carolina in 1968.  He worked for Buncombe County Health Department, and with Dr. Jimmy Peppers for a short time while setting up his practice.  He then opened his practice on Main Street in Marion and worked there until his retirement at age 85.  


Robert was known for his incredible, often outspoken, sense of humor, his kindness, generosity, resilience, and intellect.  He was always making people laugh and his office was a place of warmth and welcome. He adored his staff as well as his patients and never turned service away from anyone, no matter what. He also never turned down a sweet, it’s true what they say: you are what you eat.


Robert was an avid reader. He loved reading about history and studying the bible as well as self help books.  He loved spending time with his children and especially his grandchildren.  They were the light of his life.  Doc (as he was known by) loved visiting the McDowell Tire Store and his buddies who worked there.  He loved motorcycles and biking. He also enjoyed painting and photography. 


Robert Keenan will be dearly missed by all those who knew and loved him.  He touched the lives of so many through his life of love, humor, kindness and his generous spirit of helping people.  


In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to First United Methodist Church 170 Robert Street, Marion, North Carolina 28752.


A private graveside service will be held for the family at a later date.



To send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Robert Hayward Keenan, please visit our flower store.


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