Melbourne Frederick Keegan, 87, a resident of Baton Rouge, passed away on November 9, 2021, following a heart attack.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara Brown Keegan of Baton Rouge; his daughter, Lisa Keegan Carey (Chris); his stepson, Dr. Joseph Turnipseed (Elizabeth); his granddaughter, Katherine Keegan Carey; and his step-grandchildren: Tylor, Keaton, Carson, and Collin Turnipseed, and Bailey and Briley St. Romain. He is also survived by his twin brother Marion Francis “Frank” Keegan (T.J.); by his brother Tom Propst (Vickie); and by his brother-in-law Mike McIntyre (Donna). He was the beloved uncle of many nieces and nephews.
Mel was preceded in death by his brother Irvin T. Gregory; by his sister Dorothy Keegan; by his parents Geneva Gregory Keegan Propst and Melbourne Francis Keegan; by his stepfather Thomas Fred Propst; and by “Miss Minnie” Kornegay who parented him after his mother’s death.
Born in Alexandria, Louisiana on April 13, 1934, Mel (then called “Freddie”) was a 1952 graduate of Bolton High School. In 1957, he graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Personnel Management, then served two years active duty as an officer in the United States Army. While at LSU, “Freddie” and his twin brother Frank worked alternate shifts as waiters at Baker’s Café in Tiger Town, leading many to believe that he worked around the clock. He worked tirelessly from the time he was nine years old, selling newspapers and shoeshines to the soldiers at Fort Polk. One college summer, he fought forest fires with the National Park Service in California. A self-made success story, Mel started in outside sales with Vinson Supply Company, and then rose through the ranks to executive-vice-president, retiring after 30 years. As a speaker, salesman, and storyteller, he was engaging and charismatic. His wit, tenacity, and faith guided his life’s journey from the “wrong side of the tracks” in Alexandria to a home overlooking the tracks of the St. Charles Avenue streetcar in New Orleans. For most of his life, Mel resided in New Orleans and in Baton Rouge, but career moves took him to Vinson’s home office in Tulsa, OK and to Houston, TX in the early 1960’s, where the Keegans became life-long friends with Apollo Flight Director Glynn Lunney and family. As a result, the Keegan home on the Avenue in New Orleans was filled with NASA astronaut-autographed photos and mementos. Located on the Mardi Gras parade route, it was also filled annually with Carnival revelers enjoying the Keegans’ unparalleled hospitality, and clamoring for the bountiful throws from Mel when he rode in Bacchus. Pete Fountain’s Half-Fast Walking Club made it their first toasting stop on Mardi Gras mornings.
Throughout his life, Mel participated in numerous works of charity and was active in many church activities. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of JoEllen Smith Memorial Hospital in New Orleans, among numerous other appointed business roles.
Mel loved and was loved by people from all walks of life. An avid golfer, he never met a stranger, and conversation was his favorite past time.
Visitation will be held at Resthaven Funeral Home on Saturday, November 13, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. until Funeral Service at 2:30 p.m. Entombment will follow at Resthaven Gardens of Memory.
Family and friends may sign the online guestbook or leave a personal note to the family at www.resthavenbatonrouge.com.
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