'Miss Ann,' friendly fixture of student life for generations, dies at 70

Ann Keith spent more than 35 years welcoming and nurturing students
Rachel Stengel '14

Ann Keith, who made a lasting impression on generations of Rider students and was known ubiquitously as "Miss Ann," died on April 28. She was 70.

Keith began her career at Rider in the early 1980s and held a number of positions within Rider's dining service. For more than 35 years, most notably, she welcomed students into Daly Dining Hall, making her greeting a daily start and finish to their day as they swiped in for meals. Not only did she provide exceptional service for Rider's dining service, but she also spent time supporting student activities such as judging competitions and speaking to students and parents.

Noted for her generosity and care for students, Keith would frequently provide a listening ear and offer words of advice during difficult times. Her compassion was particularly evident each Thanksgiving as she would provide food for students in need and those who could not go home for the holiday.

“Somehow she sensed when you were upset or in need of comfort,” says Jan Friedman-Krupnick, director of business and technology innovation. “She always had encouraging words and was there to lift your spirit. Without a doubt, she contributed to the success and persistence of many students who would not have graduated without her support.”

Coordinator of Student Involvement Allie Koury ’15 says Keith’s influence was clearly noted by students. The former Student Government Association member and president once developed a scavenger hunt across campus that asked students to take a photo with their favorite Rider person. Keith was at the top of the list.

“More than half of the people who submitted sent in a photo of Miss Ann, saying that she was their favorite person at the University,” she says.

Keith’s presence on campus was a bookend for many alumni who met her during an Admitted Student Day and made a point to say goodbye before graduation.

“You would often hear from students, parents and staff about how Miss Ann has influenced and made an impact on their college experience,” says Peter Ehlin, district manager of Gourmet Dining, Rider’s food service partner. “She would spend time with students providing advice as well as steering them to the right departments on campus.”

Keith is survived by her husband, Pete; her children, Valorie, David, Edward, James, Jasaan, Joseph, Ralph and Melvin; step-children, Orlando Keith Jr., Tuere Keith and Danyelle Hallett; and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

At the family's request, contributions may be made in Miss Ann's honor to the Rider Scholarship Fund. Online gifts may be made at Checks payable to Rider University may be sent to University Advancement, Rider University, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648 with Rider Scholarship Fund and Miss Ann or Ann Keith in the memo line. The family will be notified of all gifts in her honor.