Tribute to a great man; Hans Joachim ‘Joe’ Keil

Upon learning of the death of a great man last night, I am moved to publicly pay tribute to this giant-of-a-man of whom many of us are indebted. To the Keil family who loses a great man from in your midst goes my sincerest condolences. 

Hans Joachim Keil will always be great in my eyes; he lived a wonderful life full of wonderful moments with the wonderful people of whom he blessed over the years. I am one of the countless people he wonderfully influenced through his random acts of kindness. 

The year was 2010 when I arrived at the shore of Samoa to be with my wife and son. I did not have an ideal first few months because of the difficulty finding a job to support my family.

As a matter of fact, in the course of a few months, my unemployment is so severe that buying a pack of diapers on our own is almost an impossible task. At this point in time, any permanent job with consistent wage would do as long as I can afford to provide our basic needs.

Out of this imperfect situation, however, came a perfect man to my assistance, and to the extent, assisted my wife and our son. 

Around May 2010, I took courage and came to McDonald’s office to speak with the store manager about a possible employment opportunity. To my dismay, the lady manager kindly told me that no position is available at the moment. After telling me of the bad news, she asked if I could wait for a moment, I did. After only a short moment, the store manager introduced me to Hans Joachim Keil. 

That was our first meeting that ended with ‘you may start tomorrow.’

 ‘Joe’ Keil did not have to give a stranger and a foreigner a job that is not even available, but he did it anyway.

Neither was he obligated to promote me from the grill station guy to the cashier after only two weeks of employment. Nor he felt indebted to provide me with a kind reference statement for my next employer after only a few months of employment, but he did it anyway.

He did it because he is a decent, kind, and gracious human being. In the eyes of others, his decision to hire me out of the blue may be insignificant, routinary even, but to me is of great significance. Not only was I able to secure a better-paying job after his reference statement, I became a bit charitable human being because of ‘Joe’s’ Christ-like deeds.

I won’t be surprised at all if the man whom I called brother ‘Joe’ Keil have a collection of tens of thousands of ‘did-not-have-to-do-moments-but-did-it-anyway’ in his wonderful lifetime of service. 

Since resigning from McDonald’s, I made a habit of eating at McDonald’s every time I visit Upolu to remind me of where I started off when I first arrived in the country. At the same time, the habit of eating at McDonald’s serves as a wonderful reminder of ‘Joe’ Keil’s silent greatness. 

Every time I have a chance to see him, I remind him of how grateful I am for his kindness. Be it in the chapel or around Apia area because I am personally indebted to the man. 

Now that you are on a different side of the veil brother ‘Joe’ Keil, I want you to know that you are one of my great heroes. My interaction with you may not be much, but you have done much for me and my own family during those early days. 

In my book, a man does not become great only when he performs great heroic actions. He becomes great when he performs small consistent righteous acts of kindness over a lifetime. 

And Hans Joachim Keil is the perfect embodiment of this very definition of greatness.

Additionally, you are a great wonderful man not only because you performed little acts of kindness, but more importantly, those little acts of kindness are done with the purest intent to ‘succor the weak, to lift up the hands which hand down and to strengthen the feeble knees.’ 

To end with my homage, let me say this; blessed is the man who gives comfort and security to his family, but glorious is the man who blesses his family and extends the blessings to his neighbours. 

May the Lord crown you Hans Joachim ‘Joe’ Keil with the blessing of immortality and the glory of eternal life ‘in the mansions which he has prepared in the house of my Father.’ And may your family be equally blessed because of your greatness.

As for us the living, let us live a selfless life for whosoever ‘lives only for himself withers and dies’ but ‘he who forgets himself in the service of others grows and blossoms’ in this life and eternities to come.

Thank you Keil family for sharing with us this great man. Thank you brother ‘Joe’ Keil!

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