March 28, 2023 – March 10, 2023
Pastor Keith I. Pohl was born at home on March 28, 1934, to Doris and Stanley and brother Ken Drake in Hardy Dam, Michigan. The family moved frequently, eventually settling in Muskegon Heights when he was in second grade. He learned many lessons growing up in the Heights, most importantly that education was a gift and to utilize that gift for self-betterment. He earned a scholarship to the University of Michigan where he received a business degree. His plan was to enter law school. However, in his junior year of college, he felt a calling to become a pastor, even though he hadn’t regularly attended church. It was a steep learning curve. However, he believed he could help people “get to the basics of being human.” He earned a Divinity Degree from Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern. He earned two other master’s degrees from Michigan State University in American Studies and Communication, simply in the pursuit of lifelong learning. Keith also received an Honorary Doctorate from Adrian College.
He met Roberta (Robbe) Mautz on a blind date while they were both at U of M, and they married two months after her graduation in 1958. Their children Kris, Karla, and Kim came in the years following. Besa Kotati and Kauro Kasamoto also spent time as part of the family.
Keith spent 35 years working for The United Methodist Church. His appointments include Nashville/Barryville, Grand Rapids First associate, Rockford, MSU Wesley Foundation, editor of The Michigan Christian Advocate, University UMC, and finished his career as the editor of The Circuit Rider (a national magazine for United Methodist clergy) in Nashville, TN. Upon retirement, he spent 2 years building a home in Tims Ford, TN before moving back to Michigan.
Keith spent his life working for social justice, peace, and equality with his many sermons, writings, and action. He thought it necessary to be able to articulate both sides of an issue before forming one’s own opinion. He challenged people to fully think through the issues which was not always popular.
We lost the essence of Keith four years ago as dementia set in. Robbe cared for him lovingly in their home. While he no longer knew exactly who Robbe was, he trusted this nice woman who was always there. In the last months as we were losing him physically, daughter Kim was there to help, along with aides Shelby and Jamie, and Sparrow Hospice.
Keith is preceded in death by his brother and role model Ken, sister-in-law Mary Lou, and nephew Rob Drake. He is survived by his wife Robbe, children Kris, Karla (Douglas Paterson), and Kim; grandchildren Kara (Derek) Woodman, Heather (Bryan) Seitz, Emily Zipple (Kyle Moran), and Adam Zipple and son-in-law Pete Zipple great-grandchildren Adeline, Zora, Zoe and Elliott; nieces Roxi (Dave) Dixon, Randi (Angelo) Manus, Kendra Docker; and great friends Rich and Judy Clark, Ann Kaiser Stearns who will all carry his memory in the many lessons he taught through the words he wrote and the love he shared.
Keith was a hard worker all his life starting in the summer of 6th grade at the celery farm where he moved from picker to tractor driver. Some of his first money earned was spent on “snappy” new clothes to replace his country overalls. He would go on to work for the city in the parks, trash pickup and road repair for 9 summers to support himself and keep him looking stylish. In his middle years, his style became more frugal with no need to spend money on clothes. In his later years, clothes were purely functional. Who says you can’t wear light blue and yellow striped pants with a red plaid shirt. The more colorful the better.
If you are attending his memorial service, he would be pleased if you wore your most colorful clothes – no need to match.
Memorial services will be at the University United Methodist Church, 1120 S. Harrison Rd., East Lansing, MI, on May 13, 2023. Greeting the family will occur at 10:00 AM with the service at 11:00 AM. A luncheon will follow the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to University United Methodist Church Memorial Garden or your favorite peace with justice charity.
*Pohl, Keith I. (Roberta) – [(RE) D 1958; FE 1960; RE 1993] Nashville 1958; Grand Rapids: First (Assoc) 1961; Rockford 1964; Director, Wesley Foundation, Michigan State University 10/1/1966; Associate Editor, Michigan Christian Advocate 1972; Editor, Michigan Christian Advocate 10/1/1973; Editor-Publisher, Michigan Christian Advocate 1977; East Lansing: University 8/1/1980; Editor, Circuit Rider 9/1/1986; Retired 12/31/1993.