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Keith Kearns

1989 - 2009

Our Keith

Keith joined the team upon its inception in 2004. He was fairly quiet his first year, sort of doing his own thing. In the summer of 2005, he joined a small portion of the team in traveling to the offseason event, Bash at the Beach. All students participated in the drive team, including Keith. The lead mentors realized his potential and focus and he was selected to be the team's human player during competition the following year. Keith also got into building the drivetrain and helping out on all parts of the robot. He proved to be very good with his hands and incredibly mechanically inclined. A very intelligent student, Keith earned enough credits to graduate from Penfield High School a year early as a Junior! The team was sad to see him graduate so quickly and head off to Monroe Community College, but he did return to us as a college mentor for two years, helping out with the drivetrain and wherever needed in build season. We were very excited that he was with us at the Finger Lakes Regional Competition where we won our first Chairmans Award in 2007!

Chairmans with Keith

Every single student that goes through our team is special and becomes a part of our family. 1511 learned an even deeper meaning of the word family as many members attended Keith's wake and funeral just days before our first 2009 Regional Competition. We were touched as we read the note about our Robotics Team in his obituary, and saw photos of him in Robotics at the Wake. In the frame of his school photos was the 1511 Badge we had created for him. Larry & Kim laid a camo bandana on his casket before he was committed to the earth. His mother was so grateful for all of us showing up, and told us so many times the team meant so much to him and to her. We invited her to come see the team at the Finger Lakes Regional, and prepared a 2009 shirt in Keith's size that the entire team signed with notes of support and love. At the Regional, the XCats (Team 191) presented us with a large posterboard sympathy card that we hung in our pit; our FIRST family. Every member of the team wore black headbands or armbands that said "Remembering Keith." Keith's mom was overwhelmed when she came to visit us at competition, and most of the team was in tears giving her the shirt, but it was a moment that we all needed. We nearly pulled off victory that evening with Keith in our hearts, making it all the way to to finals with teams 340 & 316.


Keith's Shirt


As the days passed we were all able to share stories and memories of Keith.  So many funny stories, so many great times, such a wonderful person.  Here are our memories and photos so that we never forget our great student, mentor and friend.

Josh's Memories

My favorite memory of Keith was Boston in 2006. He brought 3 crates of Bawls energy drinks (glass bottles) down in one of the cars. Keith's room was like a shop with robotics kids from even different teams, knocking on his door to buy an energy drink. We had a great time that year. I still remember his senior quote well....
"I shall play the organ grinder so that the monkeys keep dancing in the street."
Lol. He always made me laugh, not trying to most of the time. As a gamer, he introduced me to Arena 51 where he worked for a while and there was no denying as Austin said....he knew what he was talking about.

Theo's Memories:

My favorite memory of him is back in 2007 when one night during build season, he went out and got stuff to make milkshakes with Shelley and then made them for the whole team. I still remember that distinct smell of the blender that made one too many milkshakes and proceeded to make F2 smell like burning plastic and rubber. Naturally, Kieth was all laughs and handled it with the smart, funny attitude that he always had.

Rajeev's Memories

1. Keith walking into the girl's bathroom in Boston.
2. Raffling off the last bottle of Bawls on the bus home. Things got out of hand, and he was banned from selling it from then on.
3. Absolutely destroying me in UT during Parenting my freshman year.... Read More
4. Absolutely destroying me in UT04 in general.
5. Just being an awesome guy.

Ms. Ihrig's Memories

My favorite memory with Keith is when the adults got together to play... what's the nice way... Principal... I think... anyway, for whatever reason Keith and I took turns being the low man on the todem pole for quite a while; if it wasn't him it was me - but regardless the entire room was filled with laughter and it was a great stress reliever to a... Read More very, very long day 

Jessica's Memories

Keith was the kinda guy who wasn't afraid to tell someone when they were over reacting,and even though he did that a lot with me, i really respected that in him. He'd look at me in the back of F2 durring one of my rants and just go "so what?"
I'll always remember pulling into the school at night, and seeing his very distinctive blue truck with that ... Read Moresilly sign on the side... no matter where you were, you'd see that truck and know he was in it. I used to look for it whenever Graeme drove Damir home...
And on the busride back from boston that first year, when shelley sat next to him and they watched a movie or somethin, and from then on they were "dating"...
In atlanta one night she came over to me and said she had dinner with him or something and i went "oooooh! another date!"... so she told me she liked him better then me.
I wish he'd been around more the last couple years. he was a part of our family.

Lorien's Memories

I have tons of good memories of him, mainly his no-nonsense way of dealing with things. Even when things got rough, he always pulled through, no matter what. He might have been the kid with the ear piercing and did the weirdest things... but he always came through, no matter who was at the receiving end.

Lorien Keith

Mark's Memories

I keep expecting him to walk in and tell us that we are all making a big deal out of this and that we can't let this bother us. If I were to chose only one word to ... Read Moredescribe him it would be Rock. He always seemed so strong to me and I looked up to him and admired his maturity and his perspective. I will always remember him in my mind with his head tilted and a big sarcastic grin on his face and a large case of Bawls energy drinks in his arms.

Austin's Memories

Keith was a cocky, coffee guzzling, drive train building, drama destroying SOB. He was always brewing that fresh pot of coffee, and trying to get that first fresh cup. When it came to building a drive train he could just sit back relax and dump all the work on some helpless new member and not have to get up til he had to. In a way... the best way to mentor. Trial by fire. He gave us verbal instructions, sipped his coffee, then watched us mess up time and time again til we got it right. If we couldn't do it, he would just get up do it faster than we ever could then sit back down sip his coffee and say how was that hard? His attitude kept the laughs coming and his constant jokes made him a likeable guy. He may have seemed to be mean, but anyone that took the time knew he was always willing to give a hand. I personally know that a lot of my drivetrain knowledge came from his uncommon mentoring skills.

Kim's Memories

One of my first and favorite memories of him was when we headed down to Bash at the Beach and the whole team was going to stay at my dad's house, he and Tommy drove down together, and at one point were separate from us. We didnt see them for over an hour, and finally we found out that Tommy's car had slid off the road on an exit ramp and they were stuck waiting for help! We went to go pick up Keith and Tommy was waiting with his car, and Keith said "I told Tommy he was driving too fast around the corner!" (in that very matter of fact Keith tone...) and Tommy said No I wasnt!!! Keith insisted he would, and never again would he let Tommy drive, I think he always had to drive if he went anywhere with Tommy!

Bash Drive Team 

We had a lot of fun at Bash at the Beach that year.  While Keith did an amazing job as human player, we unknowingly, while just trying to have fun, plowed our way to an amazing victory, becoming Bash at the Beach Champions!  We went out to a late night diner to celebrate, where Keith and the rest of us had a blast unwinding and enjoying the moment.


Another one of those funny moments was when we were finishing late one night in the Boston pits and on our way out Keith wanted to stop in a restroom.  We were all talking as he walked in, and less than a minute later he walked out with a very odd look on his face.   Mr. Wolf looked at him and started laughing as we all looked up and noticed the WOMENS sign above Keith's head.  Mr. Wolf made him pose for a picture, Keith now with a smug grin on his face, before we would let him use the MENS room!


If you would like to submit a memory about Keith to share, please email Kim.



Drive Team FunnyKeith & Graeme












Boston 2006

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