Nick Charles Keith, longtime resident of Durant, passed away June 11, 2018, in Denison, Texas. He was born February 7, 1940, in Ada, Okla., to Charles and Wanda Keith. The family moved to Atoka, Oklahoma, the following year. He graduated from Atoka High School in 1958. He was an outstanding basketball and baseball player in high school and earned a scholarship to play baseball at Wichita State University.
After one semester, he came to Southeastern on a basketball scholarship from legendary coach Bloomer Sullivan. He graduated from Southeastern in 1963. While both were attending Southeastern, he met and married Lola Hannan of Colbert, Okla., on May 29, 1961. They were the proud parents of Kimberly, Kandace and Kayla.
He is survived by wife Lola of the home in Sherman, Texas, sister Christina Bock and husband Jim, daughters Kimberly SanMillan, Kandace Keith and Kayla Keith, son-in-law Lance SanMillan, grandchildren Sydni Pierce and husband Joe, Nicholas SanMillan, Kathryn SanMillan and Elizabeth SanMillan, and great grandchildren Lily and Atticus.
He was preceded in death by his father Charles, mother Wanda and brothers Terry and Bill.
Nick was greatly influenced by coaches throughout his playing career and he dreamed of having that same influence on others. He lived his dream by coaching boys basketball 15 years in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Atoka before taking a position as the club golf pro at Durant Country Club.
He was named women’s basketball head coach at Southeastern in 1981. He had never coached women, but didn’t miss a step in his 24-year career at Southeastern. He compiled 402 victories en route to becoming the winningest women’s basketball coach in Southeastern history.
He led his teams to six national tournaments, five in a row in NAIA competition and one in NCAA Division II. He had back-to-back national runner-up finishes in the NAIA in 1995 and 1996, losing each time by only one point. Southeastern was also runner-up in NCAA Division II in 2002.
Among many outstanding players, he coached three-time All-America Crystal Robinson, who went on to play professional basketball. He and his team celebrated his 350th victory with a cake in the East Central dressing room.
Nick earned several Coach of the Year awards and has been inducted into the Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame, the Atoka High School Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame.
There’s no telling how many miles he has traveled as both coach and player and no telling how many ponds he has been in searching for golf balls. He also served as golf coach at Southeastern.
Nick was highly respected in coaching circles and an outstanding classroom teacher. His teams were of high moral standards and great representatives of Southeastern. He was kind, compassionate, caring and successful and nobody ever had a badword to say about him.
Services are under the direction of Brown’s Funeral Home. Family hour will be from 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 15, at Brown’s Funeral Home. Service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, June 16, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Durant.