Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Funeral Mass celebrated for Donald R. Keough at Cathedral

Published March 5, 2015

ATLANTA—The funeral Mass was celebrated Tuesday, March 3, at the Cathedral of Christ the King for Donald R. Keough, whose leadership and generosity included his home parish, the Atlanta Archdiocese, and Catholic universities.

Mr. Keough, the former president, chief operating officer and director of the Coca-Cola Company from 1981 to 1993, died Tuesday, Feb. 24, in Atlanta of natural causes. He was 88.

He and his wife of 65 years, Marilyn, were longtime parishioners of Christ the King Cathedral, most of those years attending the Sunday 7:30 a.m. Mass, said Msgr. Frank McNamee, rector.

“He was a faithful Catholic,” Msgr. McNamee said. “He and his family have been very generous to the Cathedral in so many ways.”

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory presided at the Mass with Msgr. McNamee as the principal celebrant.

Other concelebrants included the current and emeritus presidents of Notre Dame University, Father John I. Jenkins and Father Edward A. Malloy, and four Notre Dame faculty members, Father Ernest J. Bartell, Father William M. Lies, Father Patrick E. Reidy and Father Timothy R. Scully, all priests of the Holy Cross.

Mr. Keough was chairman emeritus of the Notre Dame board of trustees and a longtime board member. His philanthropy to the university supported Irish studies, theology, philosophy and global affairs. He was awarded the university’s Laetare Medal in 1993.

Also concelebrating the Mass were Jesuit Father Timothy R. Iannon of Creighton University, Mr. Keough’s alma mater, Msgr. Edward J. Dillon, pastor of Holy Spirit Church, Atlanta, and Msgr. Joseph Corbett, pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Church, Atlanta.

In his homily, Msgr. McNamee said, “Don never wore his faith on his sleeve, but his Catholic faith was a vital part and still is to him, Mickie, and all of the family. For Don, his faith was a blessing. What made Don proud was during family trips all the clan was gathered at Mass, filling up two or three rows. Nothing made him prouder.”

The Keoughs have six married children, Kathleen and Gilbert Soto, Shayla and John Rumely, Eileen and Chris Millard, Michael and Jinny Keough, Patrick and Megan Keough, Clarke and Beth Keough, and 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Born in 1926 on a farm near Maurice, Iowa, he was raised in Sioux City and after two years in the U.S. Navy during World War II he graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. His deep Irish roots traced to his great-grandfather, Michael Keough, who immigrated to the United States in the 1840s.

Mr. Keough began his career as an on-air personality on Omaha television, where his show preceded one by Johnny Carson. He then joined Paxton & Gallagher, a local food distribution company. When Duncan Foods acquired the company, the family moved to Houston, Texas. Then Duncan was acquired by the Coca-Cola Company, where his legendary business career flourished for the next four decades in Atlanta.

His contributions in the archdiocese were often behind the scenes.

“Don was one of those rare people who had the ability and opportunity to create new knowledge and make our world a better place. And he did,” said Msgr. McNamee. “He was an inspiration to everyone’s lives that he touched, and I thank him and his family for the blessing they have been to me and to Christ the King.”

Nancy Coveny, executive director of the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia, said that he was a founding donor and original board member of the foundation.

In 1990, at the request of Archbishop James P. Lyke, OFM, he chaired a special commission with three other appointees from the business and financial community. Their work, complemented by an independent audit by Coopers & Lybrand, certified public accountants, assured there was no misuse of funds and assisted in restoring public trust following the resignation of Archbishop Eugene A. Marino, SSJ.

In 1997, Archbishop John F. Donoghue asked him to be the chairman of the $50 million “Building the Church of Tomorrow” capital campaign, the largest in the history of the archdiocese, which helped build five new Catholic schools and two Catholic university centers and established endowment funds for tuition assistance for families with children in Catholic schools, for care of retired priests and for seminarians’ education.

Memorial contributions may be directed to a favorite charity, including the Cathedral of Christ the King, Notre Dame University and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital.