Caleb Joseph Keyes, September 26, 2000 – June 30, 2023
Caleb was a creative, generous, strong, resolute, young man who left this world too quickly. After a prolonged, undiagnosed illness, Caleb, passed away in his sleep Friday June 30, 2023, at his apartment in Richmond, Kentucky where he was an anthropology & history double major at Eastern Kentucky University.
Caleb came into this world loudly announcing his presence. He immediately drew the attention of all the hospital staff because of his full head of beautiful red hair. Due to custom at the time, he was assigned female at birth and named Sarah Joy Keyes after his mom’s dear friend Sarah (Sally) Messmer. Sally & Don became surrogate grandparents to both Caleb, and his older sister Tabitha.
Caleb attended Heritage Christian School through second grade and then switched to the Hamilton Southeastern School System. From a young age he loved drawing, writing and music. Caleb started with piano as a child and added percussion in middle school. He was recruited to play in the front ensemble of the Fishers High School Marching band starting in 7th grade. Caleb excelled at marimba and later moved to play snare in the drum line. Due to struggles with harness fit he produced a detailed design for a snare harness for female bodies. Caleb was part of the marching band when the school won their first appearance at Indiana state finals in 2016 with their show “Blue Shades.” He marched in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day parade in 2015 and the Hollywood Christmas parade in 2017. was also a member of their winter percussion group that a won World Guard International championship.
During his years in high school Caleb struggled with mental health issues including depression. Towards the end of his senior year, he came out to his parents as a transgender man. Looking back on those struggles it all made sense. Caleb, or Pushkin as his sister nicknamed him, was still the incredibly fun person we had always known. Caleb loved puns, correcting grammar and Doctor Who!
Caleb was attracted to Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond Kentucky due to their strong Foresensic Science program. He entered as a psychology major and experimented with English education then history. Caleb added on Archeology (a sub field of anthropology) and hit his stride. Caleb made the president’s list the last four semesters and was ecstatic about the field archeology class he was finishing. He finally admitted he was glad for all the Junior Ranger badges his mom made him get when they traveled to US National Parks. Caleb was going to be the secretary of EKU’s anthropology club and a research lab technician studying food insecurity in the fall. He would have graduated in May 2024.
Caleb is a beloved son, brother, and friend. He looked out for those less fortunate. He was sure to tip generously and always rounded up. He volunteered with many local groups around Richmond and advocated for housing, mental health and other social issues.
Caleb is survived by his sister Tabitha Keyes and her husband Mohamed Khaled and his parents William (Bill) and Dorothy (Dorrie) Coss Keyes. Caleb enjoyed the love of various aunts, uncles, and cousins. He is predeceased by all his grandparents: William and Elouise Keyes and Vernon and Necia Coss.
Visitation will be Monday July 10th at 10 am at St Peter’s United Church of Christ in Carmel. A Celebration of Life will follow at 11 am with interment of ashes in the church’s memory garden. The family requests that the progressive rainbow or trans colors be worn. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to: Gender Nexus in memory of Caleb Joseph Keyes.