Keith Malone Elder was born in Denver, Colorado on December 5, 1946. Keith passed away on December 12, 2014 in Billings, Montana at St. Vincent’s Hospital. He was educated at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas. He met and married Marlys Connell on February 27, 1968. Then entered full time Christian ministry at Grace Assembly of God in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where he served as youth pastor for 7 years. Then in the fall of 1976 Keith and Marlys moved to Helena, Montana where he was minister of youth at First Assembly of God for three years before being elected as State Youth and Education Director for the Montana Assemblies of God in 1979. He held the position for 28 years from 1979 until 2008 with offices in Billings, Montana.
Preceded in death by: his mother Laverne (Elder) Holloway and father Rex Elder, and daughter Charmell. He is survived by his wife Marlys (Connell) Elder; son Kent Elder (Elaina) and two children Kendrick and Kailey; daughter D’awn (Greg) Ledgerwood and four children, Rachel, Marlyssa, Mikayla, and Mikendra; brothers Jerry (Billie) and Larry (Rhonda) and one sister Alice (Gary); brother and sister-in-law Fred and Mellene Moore; brother-in-law Wayne Connell; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Keith held many roles in his life but his greatest roles were being a husband, a dad, a grandpa, an uncle and a brother-in-law.
In his role as District Youth & Education Director, Keith held many positions on national committees and boards, served with Assemblies of God colleges in an advisory capacity, and led numerous overseas youth missions, both with Mobilization and Placement Service (MAPS) and Ambassadors in Mission (AIM). Annually, Keith conducted three to four district youth camps involving well over 1,000 students each year. He also served as a member of the Montana Presbytery for the Assemblies of God.
Keith instituted Ranger Mountain, and was instrumental in locating and securing the property in the Snowy Mountains which is used every year for Royal Ranger ministries. He assisted in expanding Chi Alpha Campus ministries to most of the colleges in the state of Montana. He also established a student-led campus outreach for middle and high school students called Youth Alive, recruiting and training leaders who met and worked with students to reach their local campuses.
Over the past few years Keith served on staff at Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, North Dakota and also worked as a consultant for youth directed ministries. He consulted with churches on a leadership level, training pastors and church leaders to develop and implement a fresh vision for reaching their communities. At the time of his death, Keith was working to develop Legacy for Leaders, a coaching and ministry development tool for church leaders.
Keith is known for his love of Montana. He was an avid sportsman and outdoorsman, enjoying hunting, fishing, boating, and his cabin on the North fork of the Flathead River. His ministry took him to every inch of Montana, and he knew the roads and back roads very well.
He is also known for his great love of people. Keith was never too busy to stop and minister to individuals, putting his hand on their shoulder in his signature way and praying with them. Keith left behind a great legacy not only in Montana, but around the world. His name is well known and respected by national and state leaders in the Assemblies of God. Many of the students who went through his youth camps are now missionaries in foreign nations, pastors and youth pastors of churches in Montana and around the U.S. Keith Elder is a name beloved by thousands, and he will be greatly missed.
Funeral services will be 10am Wednesday at Freedom Church with interment in Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park.