27 May 2011


So I was busily and excitedly writing about my new site, PhyloPic, back in February and early March, and then this blog went silent. What happened?

Something terrible.

My father, Timothy Alan Keesey, passed away on March 10th. He had gone into the hospital the previous day. He didn't last the night.

Dad was known as a "gentle giant"a towering, athletic man of great patience. He was a pleasant man, very well-liked.

He instilled an appreciation of nature in his children, my sister and me. Our most common family pastime was hiking. We frequented the Billy Goat Trail, between the Potomac River and the C&O Canal, where he showed me how to catch reptiles, and how to tell a broad-headed skink from a five-lined skink. He'd been a biology major, and I owe my interest in biology in large part to him (by both genetic and memetic transmission).

I also owe my interest in programming to him. Not that he was a programmer (apart from taking one course back in the punch-card days), but he bought the family a TI-99/4A back during a time when it was pretty rare to have a home computer. We never got any software for it, so the only way to use it was to learn BASIC. I became pretty much the sole user, teaching myself how to program from the BASIC manual. No other single act has contributed so much to my ultimate career.

Dad's obituary is here. It doesn't tell much about him as a person—his quiet demeanor, his keen intellect, his skill with cars, sports, and animals.

Goodbye, Dad, and thanks.

But this year has not been entirely without good news.

I'm comforted by the fact that, before he passed away, Dad knew he'd be getting another grandchild. (My sister already has a daughter.) My wife, Susan, is expecting our first child.

My dad was a wonderful father. I have both a good model to follow and a high standard to live up to.

By strange coincidence, our daughter's due date is October 14th—Dad's birthday.


  1. A touching memorial Mike. And welcome back, I'm looking forward to more posts.

  2. I'm sorry to read that. My mom died in November. It took six months for me to feel like painting again.I'm glad you have a child on the way! BTW, I grew up (Catholic) in MD too, and used to visit the Olney Inn with my sister, parents and grandmother.

  3. Thanks, guys.

    Have not been to the Olney Inn but we did sometimes eat at the Olney Alehouse. Good hearty food as I recall.

    (One point of order: I grew up Protestant [variously Episcopalian, Quaker, Presbyterian, Charismatic, etc.], not Catholic.)

  4. Good to hear from you again.

  5. I've been away from Reader for a long while. I'm saddened to hear of the passing of your father. He sounds like a gentle and intelligent man - though, knowing you, I'm not surprised. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    And congratulations on the impending arrival of your first child! Isn't your birthday in October as well? A good month for Keeseys to be born, it would seem. You and Susan are going to be amazing parents.