John Keston, born in the United Kingdom as Francis Douglas Arthur Caston on Dec. 5, 1924, died at the age of 97 on Feb. 13, 2022, at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, of complications from COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. He was father to his namesake, St. Thomas Emerging Media faculty member, John C.S. Keston.
The elder Keston was a WWII veteran who served in the Royal Air Force. Afterward, he studied voice in Italy and eventually became an accomplished tenor, singing and acting in nightclubs, commercials, films, and musicals from London with the Royal Shakespeare Company to Broadway.
After a long and varied career in show business, John settled with his family in Bemidji, Minnesota, where he taught voice at Bemidji State University from 1974 until he retired in 1989. While teaching and performing with the university he also began competitive long-distance running.
In retirement he was by no means idle and continued running, setting several world, U.S., and British records in different age groups. He was a torch bearer for the 1996 Olympics and in 2001 was inducted into the USA Track and Field Masters Hall of Fame. John loved to visit family, tell stories, and travel and would break into song at dinner parties and in restaurants delighting friends, family, guests and staff.
John Keston is survived by his wife Melissa Anne Keston, six children, Francesca Caston, Michael Caston, Philip Caston, Pamela La Forgia, John C.S. Keston, Richard Keston, and 23 grand- and great-grandchildren. Visitation services will be held at 10 a.m. with a memorial service at 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at Evans-Nordby Funeral Home in Osseo, Minnesota. In lieu of flowers or gifts, please donate to Mercy Corps’ COVID-19 pandemic response.