“Quiet and strategic,” he was the University of Houston’s first Black student government president
Keith Wade, a longtime political adviser described as a “friend and a brother” by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, died from COVID-19 complications on May 21, 2020.
At his Friday news conference, Turner reflected on a nearly half-century association with Wade.
“Keith and I cut our teeth together in politics on the campus of University of Houston. We met in 1974,” the mayor said. “We’ve known each other for 46 years. Keith was one of my best men in my wedding going back in 1983.”
In 1977, Wade was elected as the first African American president of student government at UH.
Keith Wade with Mayor Sylvester Turner
“He was THE man. I’m an Alpha, Congressman [Al] Green is an Alpha. Keith was a Kappa and he was THE Kappa on the campus of University of Houston,” the mayor said. “We will miss him.”
Wade was instrumental in Turner’s 2015 and 2019 mayoral campaigns. For decades, the consultant also advised on issues affecting labor, the disenfranchised and equality.
Turner also commented on Wade dying from the coronavirus causing the current pandemic.
“When you’re not feeling well and when you are sick, it is important to make sure that you go and seek medical attention,” the mayor said. “Keith has not been at City Hall in the last two months. … He’s been battling with his illness and underlying medical conditions and he did that up until the end. … This virus is no joke. This virus is for real. It just hits closer to home.”
Wade also was a special adviser to Houston Mayor Annise Parker and to the late U.S. Rep. Mickey Leland. He also served on the advisory board for the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs.
On Friday, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee remembered Wade as one who offered wise-but-understated counsel to elected officials.
“Keith Wade, for many us in public service, looms and has loomed larger than life. There are many other aspects of his life — a loving father and certainly a loving family man. We would see Keith Wade morning, noon and night. I think he had a deep, embedded commitment to working to change lives through the political system and through government,” the congresswoman said. “His whole life was dedicated to ensuring so many different candidates were able to achieve and he was diligent in making sure, as an elected official, you were responsive to the people. He was quiet and strategic. He could be as calm when the seas were stormy as when they were calm and balmy. … He was one of the most likable persons that you could ever meet. My deepest sympathies to his loving family.”