Services planned for Charles E. Keenum, MSU president’s father

Charles E. Keenum

STARKVILLE, Miss.— Mississippi State University is saddened to share the news that MSU President Mark E. Keenum’s father, Mr. Charles Keenum of Belzoni, passed away in the early hours today [June 20] at his home. 

Mr. Keenum’s visitation and funeral service will be held Saturday, June 22, at the Starkville First Baptist Church Outreach Worship Center, 210 S. Jackson Street. Visitation begins at 12:30 p.m., followed by the funeral service at 2 p.m.

Please keep the Keenum family in your prayers.

A formal obituary for Mr. Keenum follows:


Funeral and memorial services for Charles Everett Keenum, 83, of Belzoni, Mississippi, will be held Saturday, June 22, 2019, at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church Outreach Worship Center, 210 S. Jackson Street, in Starkville, Mississippi. Visitation will be Saturday from 12:30 p.m. until 1:50 p.m. at the FBC Outreach Worship Center.

First Baptist Church of Belzoni pastor Rev. George Johnson will officiate. Interment will be at Memorial Gardens in Starkville, Mississippi. Welch Funeral Home in Starkville is in charge of arrangements.
Keenum died Thursday, June 20 at his home in the Jaketown community near Belzoni following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

Born February 20, 1936 in Sumner, Mississippi, Keenum attended West Tallahatchie High School and later earned an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Science at Mississippi State University in 1962.

After his MSU graduation, Keenum began a distinguished career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. He was a dedicated and enthusiastic federal employee until his retirement, serving farmers and landowners in the Mississippi communities of Greenwood, Yazoo City, Forest, Corinth, and Marks before his final USDA assignments in Humphreys and Sunflower counties.

Keenum was a faithful and active member of Baptist churches in each of the communities where he and his family lived, including his current membership in Belzoni’s First Baptist Church. He took part in church mission trips, including a foreign mission trip to Belize.

He was active in his local Lions Club. Keenum was for many years active in coaching youth sports, including football and baseball.

Family and friends alike marveled at Keenum’s passions and talents for traditional farming and for engine maintenance, repair and rebuilding – from lawn mowers and other small engines to tractors.
Keenum also had a keen interest in restoring barns and rebuilding and repairing computers. He was an avid reader whose favorite publications included PC Magazine, PC World, The Progressive Farmer and Modern Farmer.

Keenum was preceded in death by his parents, James Leon and Maggie Lee Jeffords Keenum of Sumner and his brother James Edward Keenum of Sumner.

Survivors include: His beloved wife of 60 years, Shirley Jo Huffman Keenum, of Belzoni; sons Dr. Mark E. Keenum (Rhonda) of Starkville and David Keenum (Desirae) of Midwest City, Oklahoma; one brother, Bobby Gene Keenum (Martha Nell) of Brandon; 12 grandchildren; and a number of nephews, nieces and cousins.

Pallbearers are John T. Alston, Tracy Huffman, Bryan N. James, Bobby G. Keenum Jr., Bobby G. Keenum III, and Ken Kornegay Jr. Honorary pallbearers are the Belzoni First Baptist Church Men’s Sunday School Class.

The family wishes to thank the many friends who have been so kind throughout Charles’s journey with pancreatic cancer. They also wish to thank his team of dedicated and compassionate doctors, nurses and rehabilitation professionals including Dr. Anthony B. Petro, Dr. Tammy Young, Dr. Mack Gorton, Dr. Graham Calvert and the nurses and other caregivers of Baptist Health Systems and Methodist Rehabilitation of Jackson.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent by mail to Mississippi State University, Attn: Charles Everett Keenum Endowment, Post Office Box 6149, Mississippi State, MS, 39762 or by visiting or emailing