Larry Gene Keeter, Ph.D.



Dr. Richard D. Howe, “Larry Gene Keeter, Ph.D.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed May 23, 2024,

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Larry Gene Keeter, Ph.D.


Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty


Dr. Richard D. Howe




Biographical sketches


Boone (N.C.)

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage



Professor Emeritus

Biographical Text

Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Social Work Larry Gene Keeter (March 31, 1938-) was born in Spindale, North Carolina, a planned mill village town founded in 1916 by the Spencer Tanner textile family. He was the oldest of three children of Lola Crotts (1909-1987) and William Eugene Keeter (1909-1973). His brother is William Claude Keeter (1942-) and his sister is Lola Kay Collins (1946-), both of whom still reside in Rutherford County, North Carolina. Keeter graduated from Rutherfordton-Spindale Central High School in 1956. He earned his B.A. degree in philosophy and psychology from Berea College, Berea, Kentucky, in 1960. He studied philosophy at Columbia University in New York on a National Woodrow Wilson Fellowship (1960-1963). Keeter earned his M.Div. degree (1965) and his Th.M. degree (1966) from Harvard University Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. While at Harvard, he also served as the university's Baptist chaplain. In 1971, he received a Ph.D. degree in sociology from Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Keeter married his high school sweetheart, Ann Elizabeth Woodall, on June 6, 1964, in Gastonia, North Carolina, in a ceremony officiated by Ann's father, the Reverend Wilbur Festus Woodall. Ann is the middle one of three children born to Reverend Wilbur (1905-1978) and Mary Susan Fuller Woodall (1907-1997). She was an instructor at Caldwell Community College, in the GED program, for over twenty years. The Keeters have two children. A daughter, Laura Elizabeth, attended Meredith College, in Raleigh, North Carolina, and earned her B.A. degree in English from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and her M.D. degree from the University of North Carolina Medical School-Chapel Hill. She is a medical doctor in Seattle, WA. A son, William Kyle (February 25, 1969-) studied art at the Ringing School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, and at the Parsons School of Art and Design in New York. He earned his B.F.A. degree in studio art from Appalachian State University. Kyle is an artist and an instructor at Caldwell Community College, Watauga Division, in Boone, North Carolina. Dr. Keeter began his career as both a college professor and a pastor. From 1967 to 1970, he taught in the Department of Sociology at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, and served as the pastor of the Second Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) in Winchester, Massachusetts. He began teaching in the departments of sociology and religion at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, in 1970. In 1971, Keeter accepted an appointment as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Appalachian State University. He was appointed associate professor in 1975, received tenure in 1976, and became a full professor in 1979. As a professor, Keeter sought to maintain a reasonable and acceptable balance of teaching, scholarly activities, and professional service. He supervised undergraduate and graduate students in independent studies, worked with undergraduate and graduate research assistants, and administered graduate comprehensive examinations. Dr. Keeter continued to update his courses with new subject matter and pedagogy of the discipline of sociology. He enhanced the learning experiences of his classes with annual field trips to Appalachian State's off-campus sites in New York, New York (1974-), Washington, District of Columbia, (1978-), urban sites in Atlanta, Georgia (the Martin Luther King Center and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center, 1974-), and Memphis, Tennessee (the National Civil Rights Museum and Graceland, 1994-). He has been one of the strongest faculty users of Appalachian State's off-campus sites. He has taught entire courses on-site at the New York Loft (1992, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2001), in the International Studies Program in Europe (1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2001), and in the Elderhostel Program at Appalachian State (1981-1997). Keeter was the first faculty member to participate in an official Appalachian faculty exchange, which was held with the Social Science Department, University College, Dublin, Ireland (1980). During his years at Appalachian State, Dr. Keeter served on numerous committees in the department, the university, and the community, as well as in the region and the state. His professional service included serving on the Executive Board of the North Carolina Sociological Association, completing a term as president of the North Carolina Sociological Association, and serving on the Program Committee of the Southern Sociological Society. Keeter's university and community service included six years on the faculty senate; nine years as a founding delegate of the University of North Carolina faculty assembly; and eight years in Boone town government, with two terms as mayor of the Town of Boone, the first Appalachian State professor to serve. As a town council member and mayor, he was instrumental, along with others, in establishing the town manager system and the office of town planner, the zoning and sign ordinances, the comprehensive town plan, annexation, ABC control, the "Mayor's Report" on local media, and the town council meetings on cablevision. Keeter's scholarly activities include the submission of grant and book proposals, active involvement in presentations and organizing sections at professional meetings, and the funding and development of professional and instructional videos about sociological theory. He also researched the works of Max Weber and his historic visit to the United States in 1904 to address the International Scholarly Congress at the World's Fair and Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Keeter collaborated with Dr. Stephen Hall to develop the instructional video/DVD "Max Weber Visits America," featuring eyewitness interviews about Weber's 1904 visit with relatives in Mount Airy, North Carolina. Dr. Keeter's scholarly activities also include the publication of a number of books and articles in his areas of specialization, some of which follow: • "Faculty Religiosity," with Dean Hoge, Journal For the Scientific Study of Religion (1977). • "Max Weber's Visit to North Carolina." The Journal of the History of Sociology 3:2 (1981). • "Minority Students at Risk: An Interview with Professor Shirley Chisholm." Journal of Developmental Education 10:3 (January 1987). • "Max Meets Mayberry," Sociation 21:2 (May 1995). • "Elvis Is in the Building," with Kyle Keeter. Elvis International Forum. (Summer Issue 2000). • "Elvis Art," with Kyle Keeter. Elvis International Forum (January issue 2005). Keeter has been the recipient of Outstanding Teaching Awards from the University Trustees (1977), the College of Arts and Sciences (1987), the Alumni Association (1991), and the Student Government Association (2003). His other awards and honors include the NASA Faculty Fellowship, Langley Research Center, Norfolk, Virginia (1974), and the National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley (1975). He was selected as the commencement speaker at Appalachian State's graduation ceremony in May 1978, the first Appalachian State faculty member to be so honored. After serving as a professor of sociology for thirty-three years, Dr. Keeter entered the phased retirement program June 30, 2001, and was given emeritus status from the Board of Trustees in June 2004. He still teaches occasionally as an adjunct professor at Appalachian State. Dr. Keeter's avocational interests include travel, reading, the cinema, mass media, and the dramatic arts. He is an avid consumer of popular culture, one of his continuing areas of teaching, research, and enjoyment. Mrs. Keeter enjoys reading, substitute teaching at Caldwell Community College, and supporting the local NAMI chapter and the Watauga County Literacy Program. While some of her former GED students fondly call her "Miz Ann," a diminishing number of Boone folks refer to her husband as "Mayor." Dr Keeter says of his wife, "She is the best thing about me." Sources: Personal correspondence and long association. -Dr. Howe

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