Rev. Keith Fullerton Nickle died on Thursday, May 21, in Brenham, Texas, just three weeks short of his 87th birthday. The middle child of George and Vena Nickle, he was born on June 10th 1933 in Keokuk, Iowa. After a family move to Texas in his early teens, Keith matriculated at Texas A&M for two years before completing his degree at the University of Texas – his regular quip was that on Thanksgiving Day, his team always won! A graduate of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the University of Basel, Keith’s first church was in Navasota, Texas, where he met and married Marie Love Keyser. Together they launched into life, exploring the world and their capacities in it, not the least adventurous of which capacities was raising their four sons. They dove into community in distinctive but connected ways, such that it is hard to envision one without the other.
The bulk of Keith’s career was in theological education, both in the local congregation and at the graduate level. He taught in the Divinity School at St. Louis University, Columbia Theological Seminary, and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He served congregations in Texas, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, as well as in Paris, France, and Bali, Indonesia. Attentive to how the good news of the gospel found expression in the ethics of daily interactions, Keith often challenged conversation partners: “The strongest test of the faith that we speak is the justice that we do.”
Endowed with a quick wit and a devilish sense of humor, Keith enjoyed engaging people. He took us and our conundrums seriously, but not overly so, and invited us into a dynamic of growth and grace that paralleled the grace and growth he savored for himself. He is missed by his wife, Marie; their sons and spouses, Neely and Jeanie, Stephen and Catherine, John and Heather, Thomas and Eun Ha; and by seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.