Originally created 07/27/06

Featured obituary: Rev. LeGrand A. Van Keuren Jr.



Thomas Coffey said the Rev. LeGrand A. Van Keuren Jr. might have been his cousin, but he always felt closer.

"We were like brothers," he said Wednesday of the Rev. Van Keuren, 81, who died Friday at the Brandon Wilde retirement community in Evans.

A retired priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia who began his ministry later in life, the Rev. Van Keuren was one of the founding members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Harlem and served as its first senior warden.

Active in his community, the Rev. Van Keuren served 18 years on the Harlem City Council and two terms as mayor pro tem in addition to service to the Columbia County Industrial Board, the CSRA Planning and Development Commission and the Columbia County Board of Education.

After 30 years of operating a hardware and furniture company in Harlem and dedication to the activities of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, the Rev. Van Keuren decided to attend Nashotah House Seminary in Wisconsin, Mr. Coffey said.

"I asked him why he wanted to be a priest when he was such an active layman, and he said he just thought that he had been called by the Lord," Mr. Coffey said.

A native of Kingstree, S.C., the Rev. Van Keuren graduated from the University of South Carolina and served in the Navy. He then worked with the Office of Engineers at the Savannah River Plant.

After moving to Columbia County, the Rev. Van Keuren began Harlem Hardware and Furniture Co., were he was president before entering the seminary.

Mr. Coffey said he and the Rev. Van Keuren enjoyed attending the Masters Tournament and football games.

The Rev. Van Keuren is survived by his wife, Jan Van Epps Van Keuren; a son, LeGrand Abbey Van Keuren III, of Johnson City, Tenn.; a daughter, Cora Van Keuren Neal and her husband, John Neal, of Harlem; two grandchildren, Elizabeth Ann Neal and Franklin Van Keuren Neal, of Harlem; four stepchildren, Jim and Buff Van Epps, of Roswell, Ga., John and Kyrn Van Epps, of Roswell, Vicky Van Epps Tavernier and Mark Tavernier of Watkinsville, Ga., Sandra Van Epps Ossie and Jim Ossie, of Dawsonville, Ga.; and nine step-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, 3321 Wheeler Road in Augusta, led by the Rev. Henry Louttit, Bishop of Georgia, the Rev. Cannon Neal Phelps and the Rev. Harriette Simmons. Burial will follow at a later date at Westover Memorial Park in Augusta.

In lieu of flowers, send memorials to Trinity Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 275, Harlem, GA 30814; the Convent of Saint Helena, P.O. Box 5845, Augusta, GA 30916; Nashotah House Theological Seminary, 2777 Mission Road, Nashotah, WI 53058; Starling Funeral Home, U.S. Highway 78, Harlem, GA 30814.

Reach Nathan Dickinson at (706) 828-3904 or nathan.dickinson@augustachronicle.com.