Winston-Salem Says Good-Bye to Bill Keane, a Runner and a Friend

Photo by Andrew Dye

Reprinted with permission from the Winston-Salem Journal.

The streets and sidewalks in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood and other parts of Winston-Salem are a little more empty after the death of ultramarathoner Bill Keane.

Keane, 77, died on his daily run on Monday [January 24] suffering a heart attack, according to his daughter Nea Dalton.

“He died doing what he loved,” Dalton said Tuesday.

And, boy, did Keane love to run and run some more.

He first picked up running at age 40 and never stopped. He had completed nearly 400 ultramarathons all over the world and continued to run.

Keane, who was married to his wife, Susan, for 54 years, often joked about his weekends of running.

“She knows that my race starts on Saturday and I finish on Sunday,” Keane said in 2020 about his ultramarathon habit.

Dalton said her mom enjoyed the travel that Bill’s races brought. He ran them with his trademark toothpick in his mouth.

“He often would draw people in when he talked about his running and would say that he’d run from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans,” Dalton said. “Then he’d pause and say I’m smarter than most because I did that in Panama where it’s a little easier to go from one ocean to the next.”

Dalton and her brother, Nigel, who is working in Germany, graduated from N.C. State. Bill was also a State graduate and worked for Western Electric and AT&T as an engineer as he and Susan raised their family in Winston-Salem.

Read more from John Dell’s article about Bill Keane and the important place he held in the Winston-Salem community, as a runner and a friend.