Grace C. Keith, sometimes called “Gracie”, “Coach Keith”, “Lady”, “Nana”, and a few other nicknames we may not even know, was born December 15, 1934, and left this earth on July 14, 2021. She is now residing in heaven where her breathing is smooth and free.
She was preceded in death by her mother Nellie Coates and her father Kib Coates.
Grace was born in Rhea County and lived her younger life in Sale Creek, Tennessee where she attended school, played basketball and attended church. After high school graduation she attended Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tennessee. There she played basketball for four years, earning many records that still hold today. She was an excellent student and continued her education at MTSU, earning a Masters Degree in Education. She made friends with many coaches over the years and was close friends with the late Pat Summit. She was a member and past president of the Hall of Fame at Tennessee Wesleyan College. She was employed for many years with the Hamilton County Department of Education serving in the classroom, coaching and as principal. In 1975, she was selected to restart and coach the UTC Mocettes basketball scholarship program, leading them to a regional championship in their second year of playing.
Grace and the late Catherine Neely, along with other friends who were big fans also, were at every ballgame the Lady Vols played in Knoxville and a lot of the away games, including the SEC and NCAA tournaments. She was honored with many awards over the years including in 2003 when she was inducted into the Chattanooga Volleyball Official Hall of Fame. In 2007, she received the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame Betty Probasco Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015, she was inducted into the UTC Athletic Hall of Fame. Grace loved being a part of the Keith family and said so often.
She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Paul Keith. Other survivors are her brother Charles Thomas Coates (Faye), brother in laws and sister in laws: Raymond and Dorothy Keith, Jack and Lou Keith, sisters: Helen Daugherty, and Ruth Bailey, nieces and nephews: Sheila (Gene) Varner, Marcus (Stephanie) Keith, Steve (Robbie) Keith, Brian (Kelly) Keith, Mike (Syndee) Daugherty, Chris (Tami) Daugherty, Leann (Scott) Payne, and Mitchell Delashmitt. She is also survived by her “grandchildren” Christopher and Anna.
Grace enjoyed being an honorary parent to all the children she had over the years in school and basketball, making lasting lifelong friendships with many of them. Her basketball girls all said the same thing about her, “she was tough but fair” and they loved her dearly. She will be missed by family and friends forever.
Her family requests memorial donations in lieu of flowers to Hospice of Chattanooga at www.hospiceofchattanooga.org or to Tennessee Wesleyn University at www.tnwesleyan.edu
Visitation is 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. Sunday, July 18, 2021. Services will be 11:30 A.M. Monday, July 19, 2021 At Williamson & Sons Funeral Home. Interment will follow in Chattanooga National Cemetery.
Condolences and memories can be shared at www.williamsonandsons.com.
Arrangements are by Williamson and Sons Funeral Home, 8852 Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379.
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