Remembering Keith Gingrich at the Washington Office

I was with the MCC Washington Office between 1992 and 1994. Many of us in the office had domestic or international service experience which brought some credibility when visiting congressional offices and working with various advocacy groups.

But Keith Gingrich was different than the rest. Keith and his wife, Liz, had previously served with MCC in southern Sudan for many years. They knew firsthand the horror of war and the ways U.S. foreign policy worked to further perpetuate, or occasionally help resolve, a conflict situation.

Keith was much more than your typical advocate on U.S. foreign policy, however. He did not dress in a power suit. He dressed in an untucked cotton straight-cut shirt and thrift-store slacks. His long white beard and gentle eyes made him appear as Gandolf in the halls of Congress (long before the movie version of Lord of the Rings came out!).

Rather than a brash entrance and a power handshake, he entered an office and quietly sat down. As congressional aides and others in the room spoke their rehearsed lines, Keith would listen. And then he would quietly express his thoughts. The room would suddenly be still, the obvious weight of his lived reality sinking in to all in the room. He was not the most verbose one in the room, but it was obvious he had the most to say.

Keith left MCC and moved to Indiana with his wife and children in the mid 1990s. In 1998 we heard the tragic news that Keith had died from pancreatic cancer. During the years he was with the MCC Washington Office, he humbly served to bring voice to the voiceless and to make the world a better place. The world, and we who knew Keith, still mourn his loss.

Ken Martens Friesen worked in the MCC Washington Office from 1992-1994.

Staff July 1995
Photo: Left to Right: Reina Neufeldt, Tim Fretz, Karl Shelly, Daryl Byler, Keith Gingrich (July 1995).

 

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