Economics instructor Tim R. Keely, the last member of the original TCC faculty still teaching at the college, celebrates his 80th birthday Monday, Nov. 1. A celebration will be held at 12:30 p.m. in the Building 9 faculty lounge.
Keely was hired as an instructor at Tacoma Community College when it opened in 1965 and still teaches full time. He’s known on campus as “Tim R. Keely,” or “Keely the Elder,” to distinguish him from his nephew, retired biology professor Tim B. Keely. Generations of TCC staff and students have remembered it this way: “The B is for Biology.”
Keely’s office in Building 9 is the second he’s occupied at the college – or third, if you count the year the college opened.
“The first year the faculty were in portables out in the parking lot,” said Keely. “A year or so later they put half of us into (building) 20 and half of us into 12. And then this building opened a few years after that.”
“I moved in here around 1970… I think it was 1970, but nobody else remembers either,” said Keely.
Keely was born in Tacoma’s North End during the Depression.
“We had home foreclosures then just like you have now,” said Keely.
Keely served in the military during the Korean War, but he didn’t see any combat. After earning a master’s degree from the University of Washington, Keely went to work for the City of Tacoma. He also negotiated a part-time job with the newly opened Tacoma Community College, moving to full-time instruction the following year.
“I didn’t think I’d be here that long,” said Keely. ‘I thought, well, I’ll be here five years and then look for a permanent job.”
But Keely found that he enjoyed teaching, and he hasn’t gotten around to moving on yet.
“I put my name on the retirement list last year, and then I took it off,” said Keely. “We’ll see how it goes. If I feel really good in June I may go another year. Rather than living year to year I’m living more quarter to quarter now.”