On July 29th, Ellis Barlow Keener, M.D. passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family. He was married to Ann Stambaugh Keener, for over 67 years. His family and friends will miss him for the rest of their lives. There were two things Ellis loved throughout his entire life - practicing neurosurgery and his family.
Ellis was born in Murphy, N.C. on November 24, 1926, the second son of Nancy Tindell Keener and Horace Harvey Keener. He graduated from The McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN in 1944 and volunteered for the U.S. Navy when he was only 17. At 19 he was commissioned an Ensign in the USNR. After WWII he attended Emory University graduating from medical school with B.S. and M.D. degrees in 1950. He served as a surgeon during the Korean War on the USS Cascade A-16; then in Key West at the US Naval Hospital as a full Lieutenant where he met his future wife. They were married April 24, 1954. Following the war, he completed residency programs in New York; Queens College, London, England, and Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, Canada. In 1959, Ellis and Ann moved with four children to Atlanta, GA, adding two more boys to the brood in following years. Ellis practiced neurosurgery at most of the hospitals in Atlanta and was a consulting neurosurgeon for Yerkes Primate Institute. He established the Atlanta Neurosurgical Associates in 1964. Later, the practice expanded to Gainesville, GA, where he continued doing surgery and consultations at Northeast Georgia Medical Center until he fully retired in 1992. However, he kept his medical license until he was 91, volunteering at the Good News Free Clinic in Gainesville, and the Barrier Island Clinic in Charleston, SC.Ellis and Ann moved to The Marshes of Skidaway, Savannah, GA in 2015 to be near their daughter. In Savannah he was a volunteer for Hospice Savannah.
Growing up in St. Petersburg, FL, Ellis was the youngest boy, at 13, to achieve his Eagle Scout award. Three sons and one grandson also became Eagle Scouts. The same grandson has just become the newest Dr. Keener! Ellis remained life-long friends with several members from his troop.
Among the many positions he held, Ellis was the President of The Society of University Neurosurgeons, The Georgia Neurosurgical Society, the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, The Georgia Surgical Society and the Georgia Composite Board of Medical Examiners. He was vice-president of the American College of Surgeons serving as Secretary of the Board of Governors. Ellis also served as the Editor-in-Chief of Clinical Neurosurgery. In addition, he was a Director of MAG Mutual Insurance Company. In 1993, he was selected the Neurosurgeon of the Year by the Southern Neurosurgical Society.
He was loved and is survived by his wife, Ann Keener; sister, Nancy Keener Brooks; cousin, Burton Spraker; daughter, Jane Mackenzie (Malcolm); and five sons: E. Barlow Keener (Jessica), John Keener (Brandy), Jere Keener (Mercedes), Bill Keener (Miriam), and Jim Keener (Millie). He was also loved by 13 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. He was predeceased by his mother, Nancy Tindell Keener, his father, Horace Keener, his brother Horace, Jr., and his dearly loved brother-in-law Beach Brooks (whom he met at McCallie and introduced to his sister on a blind date).
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice Savannah, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Skidaway Island, SHALSI - the Marshes of Skidaway Scholarship Fund, or Good News Clinic, Gainesville, GA.
The family is so appreciative of the staff at The Oaks at The Marshes of Skidaway for their tender loving care of Ellis for the last two months.
A service in his memory will be held on August 7, 2021 at 11:00 am at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Skidaway Island. Please respect all COVID protocols.