Nancy Keating, matriarch of influential family, dies at 94

National

This undated photo provided by Mike Keating shows Nancy Keating. The charitable volunteer and matriarch of a large and powerful Cincinnati-area family that had deep ties to journalism, politics and banking, has died, Friday, Dec. 24, 2021. (Mike Keating via AP)

CINCINNATI (AP) — Nancy Keating, a charitable volunteer and matriarch of a large family with deep and philanthropic ties to the Cincinnati area, has died. She was 94.

She died peacefully at her home Friday, son Mike Keating said in an email.

Keating was the wife of the late William J. Keating, who after leaving Congress in the 1970s spent three decades as an Ohio newspaper executive and served on the board of The Associated Press. Her brother-in-law Charles Keating was a finance executive who was a key figure in the 1980s national savings and loan crisis.

“Mom was very kind, very wise and had a wonderful sense of humor,” Mike Keating wrote. “She was always patient and calm with us. As they say, you can’t pick your parents, but we were so blessed and so fortunate to have mom and dad as our parents.”

Nancy Keating was president of her senior class and valedictorian at St. Ursula Academy in Cincinnati. She attended the University of Cincinnati, where she was active in student politics.

She christened the submarine USS Cincinnati in 1977 and served on the commission that marked Cincinnati’s 200th birthday. She was a longtime soup kitchen and Meals on Wheels volunteer, her son wrote.

Her husband was a founding partner of a major law firm, was an assistant Ohio attorney general, judge and city council member, and was elected to the U.S. House in 1971 as a Republican. In 1974, he gave up his seat to run the Cincinnati Enquirer. Increased circulation and profits, a Pulitzer Prize and acquisition by the Gannett Co. followed.

He served on the AP’s board for 15 years from 1987 to 1992 and chaired the global news cooperative for the last five of those years. He held executive positions at Gannett, where he served as general counsel, a regional newspaper president, and architect of the joint operating agreement that combined the business operations of Detroit’s two competing daily newspapers.

Keating for decades was a key civic leader in Cincinnati. His great-nephew Gary Hall Jr. won swimming gold medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. The University of Cincinnati aquatic center is named for William Keating, while he and his brother helped fund St. Xavier’s natatorium, named for their father Charles H. Keating.

William J. Keating attributed his success to his wife and her support, Mike Keating wrote.

“He would often say ‘It’s always Nancy and Bill Keating. I put her first because she was first to me in everything I ever did. She made me a better man,’” her son wrote.

She was preceded in death by her husband in 2020 and her son Bill Jr. in 2017. Survivors include six other children, 28 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren. The family plans private services but no visitation. Geo. H. Rohde & Son Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

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This story has been corrected to show that William J. Keating served on AP’s board for 15 years, not 25 years.

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