Keith Gee, an attorney and longtime supporter of local horse racing and its many workers, died Saturday of cancer. He was 56.
Born Ronald Keith Gee, he served as executive director of the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association since March 2012. Perhaps his biggest achievement occurred last year when he convinced the Fair Grounds’ parent company, Churchill Downs, to address maintenance and other issues at the Gentilly track. The result led to a successful 2014-15 race season, including an increase in revenue.
Trainer Al Stall Jr. said Gee will be remembered for among many things, his brilliance.
“When he walked into a room, 99.9 percent of the time, he was the smartest person in the room,” Stall said. “He had a love affair with racing, with the racetrack.”
Mike Diliberto, son of late sports radio legend Buddy Diliberto, said Gee’s talent was his ability to be a part of two worlds in horse racing: the back and the front stretch. He may have enjoyed walking through the barns, talking to trainers, watching horses gallop the most.
Then there were the bets.
“He liked the challenge of being able to sit down in front of a racing form and find little things that don’t jump off the table,” Diliberto said of Gee, a product of Jesuit. “It was like a mathematical problem.”
Gee also worked as a lawyer in the oil industry and Jefferson Parish.
Delgado baseball coach Joe Scheuermann was one Gee’s travel buddies. The duo traveled to the last 15 World Series, one of their many sporting trips.
While baseball and horseracing was shared passion, it launched a friendship. After Hurricane Katrina, Scheuermann lived in Gee’s rental house for nearly three years. Gee’s caring side, coupled with his honestly, is what Scheuermann said he will miss most.
“He never told people what they wanted to hear,” Scheuermann said. “He let you know in a strong fashion, he was very fair. He was a true friend.
Perhaps the trait Scheuermann said he will miss the most about Gee: no matter where he was, he called his mother every night at 7 p.m. — no matter if he was at World Series party or the Kentucky Derby.
Gee and his mother never missed a home Saints game in the history of the franchise.