Longtime We Raise Supporters Committed to Stewarding God’s Generous Gifts
In the early morning of September 20, 2021, Kelly Keithly sent his last daily text message to 150 people with a scripture verse along with an encouragement: “Remember to cultivate, nurture, and grow your faith in every opportunity for we do not know the day or the hour Jesus will return or when we will be called to go meet Him.”
“It was prophetic,” recalled his widow, Cheryl. “I imagine Jesus was there saying, ‘Well done, good and faith servant’ and had His arms open and ready to take Kelly to his eternal home. Even on his last day, he was pointing everyone to Christ.”
Kelly and Cheryl met at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz. On their second date, Kelly told her he would marry her. “I bit my tongue for a year, but I admit it was love at first sight. I always told him I was butter on the floor,” Cheryl laughed. “When I looked at him, I melted like butter on the floor.”
Cheryl has been a lifelong member of the Lutheran Church and was involved with the Walther League, a youth organization of the Lutheran Church, in high school. In college, both Cheryl and Kelly joined a campus Bible study and helped raise money for We Raise (then Wheat Ridge Ministries) by mailing and processing Christmas Seals. Early in their marriage, they decided to invest in ministries that shared their beliefs.
“We had very little when we got married in 1965,” Cheryl said. “As time went on, our giving increased. What we have belongs to God. Nothing is ours. We worked hard to be good stewards of what God gave us. Because God has been faithful to us, we can be faithful in our support of organizations—like We Raise—that focus on spreading the gospel and serving like Christ commanded.”
Cheryl and Kelly’s passion of ministering the Gospel overflowed into other aspects of their lives. As President and CEO of Keithly-Williams Seeds, one of the largest vegetable seed dealers in North America, Kelly felt a personal sense of duty to his employees. He handwrote letters to each of his 225 employees during Christmas and prayed with employees during difficult times. Kelly received numerous awards throughout his illustrious career and was active in dozens of professional and agricultural related associations. Kelly was equally committed to serving his church family at Christ Lutheran of Yuma and, before that, for 34 years at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Holtville, Calif., and passing his faith and work ethic to his 12 grandchildren.
“He was a hard worker, and he expected the same from his children and grandchildren,” said Cheryl. “But more importantly, he wanted to disciple his grandkids to be imitators of Christ. Kelly was quiet and humble but shared unabashedly. I remember many times when he called from out-of-town meetings and told me to order Concordia Study Bibles because he wanted to give them to people he just met. When God opened doors, he was going to walk through them.”
The day after Kelly’s sudden passing, Cheryl took the baton and continued his legacy by sending texts to the same 150 people (which has now increased to more than 185) with a scripture verse and a few words of encouragement.
We are thankful for the generous support of Kelly and Cheryl Keithly. Their faithful giving allows We Raise to invest in Christian organizations and emerging leaders developing sustainable programs that help people caught in the cycle of poverty, violence, and inequality and bring positive, long-term change to both individuals and communities.