Funeral services for Elder Von G. Keetch of the Seventy were held Friday morning in Highland, Utah. Family, friends and senior Church leaders attended the funeral held in a chapel south of Salt Lake City.
Elder Keetch, 57, was serving as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he passed away suddenly from a brief illness at a Salt Lake City hospital January 26, 2018.
He was remembered as a kind father, husband and friend, as well as one of the country’s leading constitutional lawyers and a protector of religious freedom.
At the funeral services, Church President Russell M. Nelson read a letter from the First Presidency written to Elder Keetch’s wife, Bernice Keetch. The letter reads, in part: “The Savior knew the sorrow we would experience when our loved ones depart this earth. Elder Keetch has returned home to our loving Father in Heaven. Although there is no substitute for the love and devotion of a dear companion, we pray you will receive the comfort and peace in the Savior’s promise: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ (John 14:27).”
During his 25-year professional career, Elder Keetch clerked for two U.S. Supreme Court justices, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Justice Antonin Scalia, and helped shape the Church’s legal strategy as an attorney at a Salt Lake City law firm.
“I can say that in the last quarter century, no one — no one — has had a greater impact on the cause of Zion in the courts — or in the courts of public opinion — than has our beloved Elder Von G. Keetch,” said Elder Lance B. Wickman, general counsel for the Church and an emeritus General Authority Seventy, who referred to Elder Keetch as a “beloved friend.”
“He might be the smartest person in the room, but he never acted like it,” Elder Wickman said. “Most of all, his love of his Heavenly Father, of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and of His restored gospel was marrow deep.”
In 2015, Elder Keetch was called as a General Authority Seventy and soon thereafter began service as the executive director of the Church’s Public Affairs Department. In Public Affairs, he guided this Church publishing entity, Mormon Newsroom, and other department divisions, including media, government, community and interfaith relations.
Friday’s funeral service was conducted by Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy.
Elder Keetch’s two daughters and four sons each offered reflections of their father. One of his sons, Elder Cameron John Keetch, is a full-time missionary in the South Africa Cape Town Mission, and his comments were read via email by another son, Kaden. Some spoke of their father’s positive attitude, his deep and unfailing love as a husband and father, and the many good times they shared together.
“He taught me that we don’t always get to understand the ‘why,’” said Alyson Mariah Ball, a daughter. “He taught me to walk by faith and to trust the Lord and His plan. He taught me to face the ‘why’ and then let it go, trusting humbly in the promise that the Lord will consecrate thy afflictions for thy gain.”
Musical selections included “Lead, Kindly Light” and “How Firm a Foundation,” accompanied by principal Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott. Members of the Keetch family sang “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” and “Families Can Be Together Forever.”
Elder Keetch was buried at the Pleasant Grove City Cemetery. The grave was dedicated by his son Tyler Gary Keetch.
Elder Keetch was born in Provo, Utah, on March 17, 1960. He played basketball at Pleasant Grove High School and received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a doctorate in law from Brigham Young University.
He is survived by his wife, Bernice, their six children and six grandchildren.
During his life, Elder Keetch served in many Church callings. He began his ministry as a full-time missionary in Germany. He also served in his local congregations as a counselor in a bishopric and in a stake presidency, as a stake president and as an Area Seventy.
At an interfaith religious freedom event in Detroit in November 2017, Elder Keetch called on people of faith to defend religious freedom by being informed on issues and getting involved in their communities.
In October 2015, Elder Keetch spoke in general conference about the safety and happiness found in living God’s commandments.