Day 11: Keith Carle


(Note: I’ve known Keith Carle in several capacities. He worked on my father’s farm one summer. Soon afterward he successfully maneuvered law school, and a dozen years later he was my boss’s opponent in three-way party primary in Arkansas’ First Congressional District.)

Dear Keith:

You’ve always worked hard, and sort of played against the rules. They’re the two things I like most about you.

The “system” doesn’t always offer the best possible answer, does it? If I believed in “other lives” you might well have been William Wallace or Pancho Villa. But you’re just a normal guy from a small town, determined to make his own way, a bit of a rebel.

Keith and his sister, Carol, who was also a high school classmate of mine.

Keith and his sister, Carol, who was also a high school classmate of mine.

What I remember most goes back to 1996 in that three-way primary race for Congress. Whether anyone realized it or ever acknowledged it, you really added a valuable dimension to that contest. It was a contentious race too, but you never got in that fray. You were always respectful, always on point, always steady. And even though we were on different sides, you were always nice to me. You never forgot your manners. Someone once told me you never forget the people who are nice to you in difficult circumstances. That’s true enough.

It’s enjoyable running into you occasionally at Kroger. You always have a smile and a kind word, and you always ask about the family.

Sometimes the simplest gestures are the ones that mean the most to us. Thank you for being the kind of person I aspire to be in so many ways, and for those occasions when you’ve rocked the boat.

Your friend,

Steve Watkins



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