Bill Keith Is Still Helping Out


Three years after his death, political insider Bill Keith is still raising money for one of his pet projects Broward’s homeless.


Keith’s engineering firms had a role in everything from the Sawgrass Expressway to thousands of units of housing and acres of shopping. 

He knew everybody in politics. He was a fixture in city halls and the Broward County Government Center.

Just as important, Keith was one of the founders of the Broward Partnership for the Homeless Inc. 

In the mid-1990s, Broward’s homeless were housed in miserable windblown, rain-soaked tents just up the street from the Government Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale. There were few programs to help and conditions in Tent City were dangerous.

Keith recognized earlier than most that the homeless needed a center to supply food, safety and training before they could get back on their feet. He worked tirelessly to create the 200-bed emergency center on Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

The center opened in 1999. He died in October, 2006 at 69.  

In his life Keith gave away “more money than he saved in scholarships and to charities,  according to former state Rep. John Rayson, a close friend.

After his death, his family found a way to continue to raise money in Keith’s name.

They created a Bill Keith Memorial Gardens at the homeless center. It raised almost $50,000 to date through the sale of bricks and benches, according to the BPHI website,

The gardens were dedicated Monday.

At the ceremony, one story epitomized the Keith I knew.

Keith found out just days before Christmas that the entertainer playing Santa Claus hadn’t shown up at the center. 

Instead of disappointing the homeless, he cancelled his plans to attend a party. Then he hustled to the homeless center, donned a Santa suit and spent the evening entertaining the children.

Keith was that kind of guy.  It is natural that he is still there helping out, if in name only.

For information about the homeless center, go here.

3 Responses to “Bill Keith Is Still Helping Out”

  1. Floridan says:

    He was one of the best (although I still get a little creeped out by the photo of him and Dick Cheney in his firm’s lobby).

  2. A Heart of Gold says:


    You’re right. Bill Keith was something special; always cheerful, always giving, and always thinking of others.

    I fondly recall serving as Broward’s human services director in 1998 when the homeless assistance center was nearing completion. Bill’s task was to get that essential piece of the county’s homeless plan finished on time and below budget. My task was to fill that center with customers, the first group coming from the closing of the horrible tent city in front of Fort Lauderdale City Hall. Bill got the shelter to open the very day my staff closed tent city down. At long last, Broward was offering a dignified place for the homeless to get the help they need.

    Nobody worked harder than Bill to bring that building out of the ground or to get the many donated items, including most of the construction, which got done thanks to the kindness of people like Jim Cummings and Ron Bergeron and so many others that contributed. All of them worked tirelessly, below cost, literally donating millions in labor, supplies and materials to get it done.

    That project was a labor of love; a gift that Broward leaders gave to their community. Front and center throughout it all was Bill Keith, keeping things moving forward, leading the charge, always positive, from start to finish. He had a heart of gold, was relentless in getting things done, and people just liked being around him.

    Replacements for the Bill Keith’s of the world are always hard to find. But we need them. Broward always needs people with enthusiasm who care about helping our community — people that can make good things happen. We sure could use Bill now…

    I’m glad you wrote a piece on Bill Keith. His dedicated example in community leadership should never be forgotten.

    Best wishes,

    Angelo Castillo, Commissioner
    City of Pembroke Pines

  3. Thom G says:

    It is wonderful reading something about a man as warm and charitable as Bill Keith. He was one of a kind and really cared for Broward.
    Thank you.