Cecil B. Keene Sr. dedicated his life to education, serving students in Pinellas County and throughout the state of Florida.
By Gwendolyn Reese
Cecil B. Keene, Sr. was a native of Pinellas County who grew up in Clearwater. He dedicated his life to education, serving students in Pinellas County and throughout the state of Florida.
Mr. Keene began his educational career in segregated Pinellas County schools, serving as dean of students at Gibbs Junior College from 1958 to 1965, then principal of Pinellas High until 1968 and of Gibbs High until 1971, the year Pinellas County schools integrated.
From 1971 to 1992, he worked as a counselor and special projects coordinator at then-St. Petersburg Junior College, focusing on efforts to help expand opportunities for students.
Gov. Bob Martinez appointed Mr. Keene to the Board of Regents of the Florida University System in 1987, where he served until 1993. In 1994, Keene entered the race for County Commission when Commissioner Barbara Sheen Todd resigned to run for lieutenant governor.
Keene, a Republican activist for years, had the backing of the GOP and if successful would have been the first black commissioner in Pinellas County. From 2001 until shortly before his death in 2008 at 84, Mr. Keene was a member of the St. Petersburg College Board of Trustees.
The Cecil B. Keene, Sr. Student Achievement Center at 1048 22nd St. S is named in his honor as is the Cecil B. Keene Memorial Scholarship Fund established by his wife in memory of his dedication to education.