First executive director of UCC Insurance Board dies
Peter Keck, the inspiration for the United Church of Christ Insurance Board and its first executive director, passed away on March 16 in Everett, Wash. He was 88.
“Peter was truly one of the UCC’s unique characters, with a bully’s bravado and a heart of gold, deeply committed to the United Church of Christ, its success and business acumen,” said the Rev. John Deckenback, conference minister of the Central Atlantic Conference of the UCC. “Glad to have known him, although at times he could drive you nuts – he often had more ideas before breakfast than many of us would have in a whole week.”
In 1979, Keck, an active member and church trustee of Woodside Village Church UCC in Woodside, Calif., was frustrated with how unfairly churches were treated in the insurance marketplace and conceived the idea of churches buying insurance as a group. After doing some research, Keck introduced the concept to Deckenback, then the acting conference minister for the Northern California Conference, who saw the value and became an advocate of the program, working alongside Keck to promote it to UCC conferences.
Today, the Insurance Board writes property and liability insurance for 3,600 churches and affiliated groups within three denominations – the UCC, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Presbyterian Church (USA) – representing more than $11.2 billion in property value.
“He roamed the United Church of Christ promoting this collaborative vision in the 1980s with an entrepreneurial spirit that was often spiced with a bottle of wine from a Woodside winemaking group he participated in,” Deckenback said. “I often accompanied him on these whirlwind trips to three or four conference offices in two or three days.
“On his first visit to my San Francisco conference office, Peter showed up in a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, striped bib overalls and a plaid shirt,” he continued. “Promptly putting his feet up, he launched into his visions of a better way to do things, and the rest is history.”
Born on June 6, 1927, Keck was known as a creative entrepreneur, and spent a few years building highways in Sydney, Australia, and Mexico City, Mexico. He resided in Woodside for 35 years and was active in the Woodside musical theater. For the last 15 years he lived in the state of Washington near his son, Kurt.
Keck is survived by his daughter, Debbie McCormick of Redstone, Colo., son, Kurt Keck of Arlington, Wash., and son, Chris Keck of Redwood City, Calif., as well as four grandchildren: Brittney, Haley, Nathan, and Sarah. A memorial service celebrating his life took place at Woodside Village UCC on April 11.
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