ABOVE: Keith Wade
There is an Egyptian proverb that says: “do a good deed and throw it in the sea.”
These are adequate words to describe the life, legacy, charisma and character of Keith Wade. In this narcissistic age of social media it is rare that you find people like this. When you find them, you assume they will be around always. The people with the biggest hearts deserve to live the longest, right?
May 20th we were reminded that it doesn’t always work that way.
When I got the news that Keith Wade made his transition, I knew, in an instant, the city had changed forever. When a person takes a look at a beautiful brick home they usually focus on the bricks, not the mortar that holds them together. That was Keith. While most media outlets reported the loss of this political giant, who was a trusted advisor to Mayor Sylvester Turner, in my heart I felt the sting of the loss of a big brother.
A big brother is a protector. A big brother is an advisor. He shares whatever he has, whether he has a little or a lot. A big brother is who you go and get when it’s time to fight, because when you can’t depend on anyone else, you know you can depend on your big brother.
Keith was dependable in this way. He was the kind of man you would want in the fighting trenches with you in war time. He was one of the few men who influenced men and who actually did more than he said.
Keith Wade sat with some of the most powerful and influential figures every day, but he always made time for the people that many of the most powerful and influential people don’t make time for. He had a heart the size of the Atlantic Ocean. In a recent conversation with a local activist, he reminded me of a day he’d reached out to Keith about a young woman who had no place to live. She lived in a hotel with her children, but her funds were depleted. The lady needed $175 to get through the week. Keith sent $1,200 and never asked to be repaid or recognized for what he did. This was one of many countless good deeds he did, where he simply threw into the sea. He was political, but he was a servant at heart.
Keith Wade was a very spiritual man. Not in the traditional sense. He was a proud Pan-Africanist, who wore an afro bigger than Angela Davis’ in his college days at the University of Houston. I cherish the long talks we had about activism, creating opportunities for our people and strategies to achieve political power. He thought very much like a sensei. I’ve been in some tense situations with Keith, but I never saw him angry. When Keith got angry, he got organized. He was organized even when he was disorganized. That only makes sense to people who knew Keith Wade.
In my humble opinion, Keith Wade’s greatest accomplishments won’t be found in the political victories he won. His greatest accomplishments will ultimately be found in the seeds he planted. This certainly includes his children, but I speak specifically of all of the people he mentored. As time passes those seeds will grow into trees that give shade to others. There is so much to learn from the life of Keith Wade if we but paid attention.
The greatest legacy that can be left by any human being is a legacy of service. None of us will be remembered for what others did for us. We are ultimately remembered for what we did for others. When you are blessed to have known a noble brother like Keith Wade; when that man passes away it’s always good to go on record about what he meant to us.
I was always taught that there is a difference between a great man and a good man. When a great man passes, the impact is seen far and wide. When a good man passes, the impact is felt far more deeply. Keith Wade was a good man, whose greatness was manifested through his goodness. Like many, I will miss my big brother. What none of us can afford to miss, however, are the invaluable lessons learned from his short, but impactful life.
My deepest condolences to his children, his family and close loved ones.
I would love to see a major street, like Almeda Rd., rededicated and renamed “Keith Wade Way” in honor of a brother who did so much for so many and asked for so little in return.
Long live the servant legacy of Keith Watson Wade. May Allah (God) be pleased with my Big Brother.