Keith was born in Memphis, Tenn. And went to college at Loyola University in New Orleans, where his menswear career began at Deansgate Clothing.
Gitman CEO John Minahan, remembering Keith, said, “We forget now, but in the late 70s, John Keith and a few young men like him invented the updated traditional business. They were the medium, before magazines, trade shows, or the internet. In those days when John walked into your store, it was an event. You wanted your customers to be able to dress confidently and a little cocky like that, so you bought what they were selling and you sold it to your customers. These guys bridged the gap between old trad and “too overbearing” fashion of that day.”
After starting at Deansgate, Minahan continued, Keith “joined the Bert Pulitzer sales force, full of young guns like Mickey Phillips, Sam and Yogi Jones, John Kelley and Walter Wise. This group, with John its loudest advocate, was the driving force in making Al and Shelly Gitman understand how important a Gitman shirt would be in the marketplace. It is the place I’ve earned a living for 24 years. I will be eternally grateful.
“At various times, John sold Gitman in the midwest, west coast, deep south, and southwest. He was a force wherever he went. I’d dare say that John has a connection with more specialty stores in America than any rep I have ever known.”
Keith is survived by his wife of 43 years, Marian; his daughter Courtney; his son John Charles; his father John Joseph Keith; sisters Sharon Keith, Rita Allbright and Candace Norman.
A memorial service is scheduled for 10am Thursday, October 6, 2011, at Roller-Chenal Funeral Home, 13801 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, Arkansas. For further details, see the obituary on the Roller-Chenal website.