From Veteran to Mentor, the Well Lived Life of Keith Blackey
One of Wentworth’s most beloved and dedicated alumni, Keith Blackey EE ‘73, passed away at age 78 in North Las Vegas on July 8, 2023. Although he lived on the West Coast for four decades, Mr. Blackey made a regular pilgrimage to the university to attend the Annual Veterans Luncheon.
For weeks before each year’s event, Mr. Blackey, a veteran himself, would painstakingly cut out all 50 individual stars from retired American flags. These would then be handed out to each guest with a handshake or salute.
His wife of 44 years, Liz Blackey, has one last box of Mr. Blackey’s stars to bring to campus when she visits this fall to accept the Gold Leopard Award her husband received posthumously. She said, “Keith would have been over the moon knowing about this very special honor.”
The Award is the highest of its kind granted by the Wentworth Alumni Association, recognizing individuals exemplifying long-term commitment and outstanding loyalty to the Institute and to the nation.
Mr. Blackey’s life was truly all about loyalty and service.
Born in Laconia, New Hampshire in 1945 to Virginia Blackey, a homemaker, and Philip Blackey, an officer in The Army, he crisscrossed the globe as a military kid, frequently changing schools in Puerto Rico, Panama, and numerous states back in the U.S. The Boy Scouts of America provided him with continuity, solid values, and friends wherever his family was stationed.
Mr. Blackey served in the Army himself during the Vietnam War, flying reconnaissance missions as a flight engineer on the A-3 .” Like many of his contemporaries, he attended Wentworth on the GI Bill as a first-generation college student. He aced Electrical Engineering with a 3.8 GPA and served as class president his junior and senior years.
His larger-than-life personality, gift for public speaking, unflappable demeanor, and ability to empathetically listen made Mr. Blackey an outstanding sales and marketing leader–first in the tech industry and later in global administration for three decades, managing teams across continental borders.
However, the achievement Mr. Blackey was proudest of was raising two sons with Liz, Michael Keith Blackey and Gregory Keith Blackey. He was a volunteer soccer coach when the boys were young, and ultimately became a youth soccer referee, a hobby he carried on for years.
It was a love of children and children’s causes that also motivated Mr. Blackey to fundraise for the Iraqi Scouts Association. This led to an assignment in Kabul, Afghanistan where he lived from 2012-2013, working as an advisor, expanding, and fundraising for the Afghan Scouts program in 11 provinces. The role brought together all of his international experience and business skills and let him give back to children the same sense of belonging that the Scouts offered him as a young boy when he it the most.
He came back truly changed–inspired by the courageous, welcoming Afghans he met–and determined to share the experience with Americans.
Back in the Bay Area, and later in Las Vegas where he and Liz moved more recently, Mr. Blackey constantly reached out to Wentworth alumni on the West Coast, organizing everyone into a community, and hosting events such as an annual Oakland A’s game against his favorite team, the Red Sox.
In his later years, Mr. Blackey doted on granddaughters Kimberly, Rosalie, and , and grew active in the Vietnam Veterans of America, Rotary International, The American Legion, and numerous other service-based organizations.
In lieu of flowers, Mr. Blackey’s family asks that donations be made in his name to Wentworth. For assistance, please contact Katie DePrimo, Executive Director of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving, at 617-989-4218.