General Authority Seventy, LDS Public Affairs executive director dies at 57


Elder Von G. Keetch died Friday, Jan. 26, after what his daughter told the Deseret News appeared to be “complications from previous battles with cancer and a recent respiratory infection in his lungs.”

Elder Keetch was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011. After the cancer spread several years later, doctors removed the lower lobe of his left lung. However, Elder Keetch appeared to be healthy and strong for about a year with no health-related incidents.

Elder Keetch’s family rushed him to American Fork Hospital after he began coughing up blood at a family outing. Doctors at the hospital discovered his left lung had collapsed. They sedated and ventilated him before sending him to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, where he later died.

The suddenness of his death shocked his family, friends and colleagues. Elder Keetch just last Wednesday attended a meeting as the executive director of the LDS Public Affairs Department.

Elder Keetch has served as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and as executive director of its Public Affairs Department since 2015. Before then, he helped shape the legal strategy of the church, writing and overseeing legal briefs and hiring and managing trial lawyers to represent the church in its most significant legal disputes, including Prop 8.

Elder Keetch received a juris doctor degree from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University in 1987. The following year he served as a judicial clerk to Judge George C. Pratt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

He later clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Justice Antonin Scalia. Before his calling as a General Authority Seventy, he practiced law at Kirton McConkie for 25 years.

The first and only talk Elder Keetch gave in General Conference was in October 2015, titled “Blessed and Happy Are Those Who Keep the Commandments of God.”

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