Rep. Garnet Coleman Remembering Keith Wade
Those like Mayor Turner who knew Keith then describe him as a leader, a trusted friend and brother. Others say he was passionate, knowledgeable, determined, and kind. Those same words describe Keith Wade today - a man who gave his time generously to officeholders, candidates, friends, and colleagues who trusted him and sought his counsel.
Keith was much more than a political consultant, a respected adviser, or a coalition-builder, although he was all those things. Keith also understood that he had a higher duty to the people as a citizen of the world.
In the “Keith Wade School of Politics,” you get out in the community, listen to people, and bring to the table what matters most to those you represent. He understood that elections must go hand in hand with progress on policy.
Keith’s commitment to civic life was formed by values he learned from his family while growing up during segregation. His Uncle, Reverend L.V. Winfield, served as the President of the Houston NAACP. Keith soon became a youth organizer. His life work had begun.
When Keith entered the University of Houston, there was reason to be hopeful. Thanks to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the 1972 elections for legislative and congressional seats in Harris County were conducted in single member districts, and the county’s legislative delegation became more diverse. Student leaders like Keith worked with their representatives on campaigns and progressive policy objectives, and many of them made that work a career.
After graduating from UH, Keith worked as an intern in the office of Senator Lloyd Bentsen and served as a valued aide for Congressman Mickey Leland. He marched with Cesar Chavez and against Apartheid, and his work always involved community organizations.
Keith served as a Co-Founder and Board Member of the Mickey Leland Kibbutzim Internship, giving over 400 Houston high school students the opportunity to learn about international policy first-hand. He also served as a Board Member of the Hermann Park Conservancy, the Houston Area Women’s Center, and Texans Together Education Fund.
Keith never held public office, but when I ran for State Representative in a 1991 special election after the death of my predecessor, Larry Evans, Keith ran my campaign. Keith’s mantra was “we work while they sleep.” We worked and we won. Today, I am serving my 29th year in the legislature and Keith has lived a full life of public service, but perhaps the most important thing we shared is a commitment to the future.
Keith always kept it real, as exemplified by work he did with students and interns as an Advisory Board Member at the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs. Just as those who went before us made things possible for us, we must do the same for the next generation of leaders.
Our politics, our government, and our community are stronger thanks to Keith Wade. He was a servant leader who shared his experience and wisdom with today’s leaders and the young people he encouraged to pick up the torch. The times were right for Keith and he was right for the times. And the time he spent with us made our lives better.