Cover photo for James F. Keeran, Jr.'s Obituary
James F. Keeran, Jr. Profile Photo

James F. Keeran, Jr.

December 1, 1941 — April 19, 2023

James F. Keeran, Jr.

James F. Keeran, community benefactor and award-winning journalist for The Pantagraph, died Wednesday April 19, 2023 at 4:00 a.m. in Bloomington. A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday May 6, 2023 from 4 p.m.- 6 p.m. at McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington. Memorial Contributions can be made to the James and Gale Keeran Fund at the Illinois Community Prairie Foundation. 

Jim was born Dec. 1, 1941, in Bloomington, the son of James Fredrickson and Anna Louise (Smock) Keeran.

Survivors include his daughter, Tracy Keeran of Bloomington and her children, Marissa Eve and Tyler; his son, Adam Keeran (Cheryl) of Catlin and their children, Brodyn, Braxdyn, Brynlee and Bricelynn; and long-time companion Mary Anne Schierman of Normal. He was preceded by his wife, Gale Burnett Keeran, who died in 2001, and his sister Donna Shane who passed away in Mesa, AZ just a few hours apart from her brother Jim.

A 1963 graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, Jim earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and completed post-graduate work at Southern Illinois University the following year. 

He launched his 37-year newspaper career in 1965 as a general assignment reporter for The Pantagraph. Jim served as assistant city editor and state editor before becoming a columnist in 1980. He was named entertainment editor in 1984 and after nine years, devoted the rest of his career to feature writing.

Listed as a notable feature writer by Marquis Who’s Who, Jim earned numerous Associated Press awards for his feature writing including first place in 1973, 1974 and 1995; second place in 1975; and third place in 1982 for column writing. He also received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Inland Daily Press Association in 1978, a United Press International award in 1974, and a third-place Polly Robinson Feature Writing Award in 1991.

Over the years, Jim gained notoriety as an actor, director and philanthropist in the local theater community. He performed and held leadership roles for Community Players and Heartland Community Theater. He also wrote and performed presentations based on the life of Abraham Lincoln throughout the Midwest.

He and Gale founded the McLean County Dance Association. Jim also established the Jim and Gale Keeran Performing Arts Endowed Fund in 2011 through the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation to support the dance association and Heartland Community Theater. In 2018, Jim received the Area Arts Round Table Out-of-the-Box Award.

When Jim wasn’t acting and writing, he supported numerous Bloomington-Normal organizations. In memory of his wife, he helped launch the Gale Keeran Center for Women in Bloomington.

He was chairman of the Central Illinois Committee of the American Civil Liberties Union from 2013-2017, and organized a local Planned Parenthood of Illinois Chapter in the 1990s. Other memberships included the national Abraham Lincoln Association, the Young Men’s Club, the McLean County Arts Center and the League of Women Voters.

Out of the public eye, Jim enjoyed book clubs, golf, tennis, travel, cooking and gardening. 

To send flowers to the family in memory of James F. Keeran, Jr., please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, May 6, 2023

4:00 - 6:00pm (Central time)

McLean County Arts Center

601 N East St, Bloomington, IL 61701

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