OBITUARY

Susan Keel

August 17, 1962November 20, 2020

Susan Keel, a public relations veteran who loved Kris Kristofferson, coffee, cats and true crime shows, died on Nov. 20. She was 58. During her career, she was involved in many important projects and clients, such as the Tennessee Titans, The Palm, Ray Stevens, Conway Twitty, the Ryman Auditorium, Opry Mills, Kroger, Lipman Properties and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. She had a front-row seat as Nashville grew from a medium-sized city with a small-town feel to the exciting metropolitan “It” city. A Nashville native, her childhood was full of spirited play with sister Beverly and friends Stephanie Crowell and Ricky Street and interesting dinner conversations about current events led by her father, Pinckney Keel, a Nashville Banner editor, and her mother, Gloria, a marketing executive at Donelson (now TriStar Summit) Hospital. Susan was one of the greatest all-time big sisters and readily took her younger sister everywhere. She mentored her sister in makeup, music, boys, fashion and everything else of great importance to a teenager. She also had a special relationship with her Uncle Bill Keel, for whom she baked chocolate cakes to celebrate his visits. In a time when many Southern women felt the need to please others, Susan remained an independent spirit who always spoke her mind. She lived her life on her terms and always made her feelings clear, sometimes without having to say a word. She was known for her beauty, especially her flawless complexion and striking blue eyes, as well as her sharp wit and terrific sense of humor. She loved everything about being a woman and celebrated her femininity with an unforgettable style. Susan graduated from McGavock High School and Middle Tennessee State University, where she earned a degree in recording industry management and met lifelong friends Carla Selby, Sandra Long and Laura Hollins. After working for Cashbox, Bullet Recording Studio and Top Billing, she decided she’d had enough of the music business and accepted a position in U.S. Sen. Jim Sasser’s office, where she met her dear friend Maribeth Blank. This sparked a lifelong love of politics and an unforgettable trip to Washington D.C. for President Clinton’s inauguration. When not working, Susan and Beverly enjoyed afternoons at Maude’s Courtyard, chicken nachos at Third Coast and as many concerts as possible. They were roommates for a decade and loved being called the Keel Sisters. She worked for three years as an administrative assistant to publisher John Seigenthaler and managing editor Wayne Whitt at The Tennessean, where she thrived on the newsroom’s pace and excitement and had no problem putting reporters in their place when necessary. In 1990, she joined The Andrews Agency, where she and company founder Susan Andrews--who were known as “The Susans”--earned an impressive reputation for their creative and dynamic approach to public relations and irresistible personalities. Susan Keel loved working with journalists and telling her clients’ stories in the best possible way. After leaving the Andrews Agency, she became director of public relations for Fletcher Rowley Inc. before forming her own company, Keel PR. Susan endured many health problems during the last decade and received a liver transplant in 2015. She was grateful to those who helped her survive these challenges, including Tatum Allsep, Debbie Carroll and Brenda Wynn. She was eager to spread the word about organ donation and help others who faced similar issues. Given a new lease on life, she devoted much of the last five years to taking care of her mother, who has given so much to her, and talking to cousin Nancy Rivers and friends Julia Duke, Rique, and Pam Lovelace. Susan was preceded in death by her father, Pinckney Keel, stepfather, Dr. John H. Coles III, and stepbrother, John Coles IV. She is survived by her mother, Gloria Keel Coles; sister, Beverly Keel; brother, Dr. William Keel (Terri); stepsisters, Lynne Coles, Lisa Coles Alexander (Dr. Clay) and Lois Coles Baker (Steve); nephews, Christopher Keel, Nathan Keel, David Steine, John Coles V, Robert Coles and Clay Alexander (Delaney); and niece, Barbara Alexander McPhail (Andrew). A Memorial Service will be held at two o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, December 6, 2020 in Lindsley Hall of Mount Olivet Funeral Home. A Gathering of Family and Friends will be held from noon until time of services at two at Mount Olivet Funeral Home. Susan's service will be broadcast on Facebook Live @MountOlivetFuneralHome or by hitting the "Join Livestream" on the day of the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to MusiCares or the Music Health Alliance.

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Services

6 December

Gathering of Family and Friends

12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Mount Olivet Funeral Home & Cemetery

Lindsley Hall

1101 LEBANON PIKE
NASHVILLE, TN 37210

LIVESTREAM SERVICE
6 December

Memorial Service

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Mount Olivet Funeral Home & Cemetery

Lindsley Hall

1101 LEBANON PIKE
NASHVILLE, TN 37210

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Susan Keel

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John Briggs

November 30, 2020

Susan exemplified class in everything she did. Always a bright light in any social occasion and intellectually blessed. We lost a terrific woman and she will be deeply missed. My deepest condolences to Beverly and her family.

Sincerely
John
Briggs

Dave McDole

November 30, 2020

I met Susan about 1985 when she came to work for US Senator Jim Sasser in the Nashville Office. Susan was a dear friend for over 35 years, a loving, caring and giving person, who was a very capable, full of adventure and excitement. She added enjoyment, pleasure, and love to the lives of those who knew her.

She enjoyed a very successful career in Public Relations representing some of the best companies in Nashville.

I will always treasure the wonderful memories of our friendship. My prayers are for my friends Gloria and Beverly whose friendship I also treasure.

Xan Jeffery

November 30, 2020

Beverly and I were attached at the hip during middle school so I have many memories of Susan, who was four grades ahead of us. Susan drove us to the movies, Donelson Plaza, to our practices and games, and, my favorite, just drove us around. Cruising with Susan was the coolest when you were a 13-year old! I love you, Beverly and Gloria.

Teresa Davidson

November 23, 2020

Susan was a great volunteer and supporter of the American Liver Foundation. She was wonderful at finding auction items, food and support for our various events throughout the year. I will miss her lovely smile and her love for sharing her story and listening to others. She was a kind and generous soul! There was not a LLW this year as we did everything virtual, and I did not realize that she had become so sick. To the family, we are so sorry for your loss!

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