J. Walter Keating was born Feb. 17, 1910, in Farmington, youngest son of Jeremiah and Catherine Sullivan Keating. He graduated from Brockport State Teachers College in 1937 and received a master’s degree from Cornell University in 1950.
J. Walter Keating taught grades one through eight at a one-room rural schoolhouse in Billsboro and then became a junior high social studies teacher at Marcus Whitman Central School, Rushville, from which he retired in 1976, after 33 years of service. Although retired, he continued to volunteer at the school daily until 1990, including teaching swimming to elementary students. To celebrate his 80th birthday, school officials honored Mr. Keating with a limousine ride to school, a red carpet, and a brunch.
Mr. Keating became involved in Boy Scouting in 1945. Mr. Keating was also one of the first member’s of Ganeodiyo Lodge and served as one of the earliest Lodge Advisors. He was the first Vigil Honor member from Ganeodiyo and his Vigil name was “The Reformer”. Mr. Keating was best known as “Mr. Philmont.” For 34 years he coordinated annual four-week trips for about 40 older Scouts from Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties to Philmont Scout Ranch, near Cimarron, N.M., beginning in 1954.
During those years, about 1,500 Scouts and their adult leaders visited the ranch for 10-day, 50-mile hiking and camping trips. Mr. Keating is believed to have taken more Scouts to Philmont than anyone else in the history of the ranch as of 1992.
Mr. Keating received numerous civic and Scouting awards, including the Silver Beaver Award, the highest award a Scout council may bestow on a volunteer leader; the Saint George Award, presented by the National Catholic Committee on Scouting; and many commendations for service to youth and the community. In 1979, he was the Rushville Lions Club’s Man of the Year.
Mr. Keating was an active member of St. Stephen’s Church in Geneva, and an usher for many years. He was a member of the executive board of the Finger Lakes Council for several years, and was its High Adventure Coordinator for 35 years.