Cdr. Keith Irving Weal, USN (Ret.) passed away on May 17 at his home in Atlanta, Georgia. Keith was born in Watertown, New York on February 18, 1942, the oldest of three brothers. He grew up in rural Adams, New York, close to the Canadian border, working as a farm hand during his teenage summers. Valedictorian and Vice-President of the 1960 graduating class of Adams High School, Keith excelled as a varsity letterman in three sports, and scholastically in math and the sciences. Foregoing a full merit scholarship to Brown University, Keith elected to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland after receiving a Congressional appointment. He was assigned to the 8th Company, many of whose members are dear friends to this day.
He graduated in 1964 and was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.
Keith was assigned to his top career choice, naval aviation and earned his wings in Meridian, Mississippi in 1966. In 1975, he earned his M.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. During his 21 years as a naval aviator, Keith made over 200 aircraft carrier landings on numerous carriers including Enterprise and BonHomme Richard.
Over the years he was stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Norfolk, Virginia; San Diego, California (Miramar); Key West , Florida and Washington, D.C.
Keith flew numerous Vietnam combat missions while serving as Operations Officer of VPF-63 onboard USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31). He also served as a Top Gun opposition pilot and directed legislative, regulatory and public education programs for the Naval Air Systems Command.
Keiths final Navy assignment was at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington, DC where he was responsible for the aviation catapult systems during construction of the Nimitz Class carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Keith retired from the Navy in 1985.
While at NAVSEA, Keith attended night law school at George Washington University National Law Center in Washington, D.C. He received his J.D. in May 1985 and, upon retirement from the Navy, started his own general law practice in Arlington, VA. An expert in Virginia mental health law, he was often called upon by local and state judges for his opinion during involuntary commitment hearings.
After his wife, Marcy, was transferred to Atlanta from Washington, D.C. in 1992, Keith cherished his role as stay-at-home Dad to daughters Elizabeth, age 18, and Tessa, age 16. His beloved son Brett, age 35, and daughter-in-law Katie, were also of utmost importance in his heart and life. Marcy and Keith separated several years ago, but they were bound by their 32 years of friendship and marriage. Marcy and the girls saw Keith nearly every day, and they all regularly interacted as a family at school events, dinners out, going to movies, and other similar activities.
Keith had a world class intellect, and was interested in all things from astronomy to bird watching to politics to ballet. He was supremely well informed on nearly every subject, well-traveled, and a fascinating companion at a cocktail or dinner party. His passions were flying, sailing, golf, Harry Potter (he sewed a Dumbledore costume for himself for Halloween), crosswords, travel, Jeopardy! and books, but they could not compete with his devotion to his children. Keith was a fixture at Atlanta International School in the carpool line and working on theatre sets.
He was a dependable, kind and loyal friend and neighbor, and could always be counted on to help anyone, whatever their need. He had strong values, impeccable integrity and an irreproachable character forged by his family upbringing, education at the Naval Academy, and training and experiences as a career Naval Officer.
His family regrets that he never visited Harry Potter World inOrlando, and will be unable to attend his 50th Naval Academy Reunion in Annapolis in September.
A memorial service will be held at St. James Methodist Church on Peachtree –Dunwoody Road in Atlanta, Georgia on Thursday, June 5 at 2 p.m. A reception will be held immediately after. Internment will be at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, with full military honors at a date to be later established. Online condolences may be sent to Patterson and Sons Funeral Home at www.hmpattersonoglethorpe.com. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1964, which is currently holding a capital campaign.