Rev. Justus Long McKeel, 85, died March 23, 2020 in Shelby. He was born Oct. 8, 1934, in Martin County, to the late William Jasper McKeel and Frances Nicholson McKeel. He was also preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Juanita Tyler McKeel. He was fondly called “Husband” by his “Wife” Juanita, and “Granddaddy” and “Da” by his grandchildren. Justus was a resident of Randolph County for 50 years.
He was a graduate of Whiteville High School and East Carolina College. He taught at Cerro Gordo High School for several years in Columbus County. He met Juanita there, and they were married in 1958 at C.G. UMC. He was “called” into the ministry and was ordained at Bethel Baptist Church in Bethel in 1960 and graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest in 1963. After graduation, he began 50 years of ministry in several N.C. pastorates including: Williamson’s Crossroads Baptist Church, Gibson Baptist Church, Wade Baptist Church, First Baptist Church Ramseur and Center Cross Baptist Church. Justus had a passion for missions. He went on several trips to Honduras and led summer mission conferences at N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell. He also served as moderator of the Randolph Baptist Association. Juanita and he enjoyed traveling to several Baptist conventions. One of the highlights of his ministry was being the mentor “Paul” to many “Timothies.” Justus, with his dear friend Leon Thompson, made a spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Justus and Juanita’s greatest love was spending time with their family particularly during annual summer trips to Ocean Isle Beach and holiday family gatherings. They had a passion for vegetable and flower gardening and canning. He found enjoyment in fishing with his grandchildren, extended family, and friends. He was well-read in a broad range of subjects including history, theology, and current events.
A private family service and burial will be held at the Sunset Knoll Cemetery, Ramseur, with Rev. Leon Thompson officiating. Justus will lie in state at Loflin Funeral Home from 1-5 p.m. on Friday afternoon and 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday morning. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Arrangements are made by Loflin Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Ramseur.
Justus is survived by his three daughters, Dr. Mary McKeel Jones and her husband, Allen Wedincamp, of Shelby, Martha McKeel McMasters and her husband, Richard Doughman, of Charlotte and Jennifer McKeel Rakestraw and her husband, Brad, of Reidsville; two sisters, Alice Faye Jarrell and husband, Jimmy, of Ahoskie, Brenda McKeel Frick of Merry Hill; five grandchildren, Matthew McMasters and wife, Angela, of Simpsonville, S.C., Natalie Jones and husband, Cameron Canter, of Raleigh, Dr. Caroline Jones Murrell and husband, Andrew, of Durham, Jasper and Emma Rakestraw of Reidsville; two great-grandchildren, Finley and Bridgette McMasters. He is also survived by numerous other loving family members.
Condolences may be made online at www.loflinfuneralservice.com.
Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church Ramseur, P.O. Box 544 Ramseur, N.C. 27316; Center Cross Baptist Church, 1789 Center Cross Church Rd., Asheboro, N.C. 27205; Alzheimer’s Association at Alz.org or Hospice of Cleveland County at www.hospicecares.cc.