I Miss Keith Layne Today

On this fateful day ten years ago a very good friend of mine slipped the surly bonds of earth and kissed the face of God.  Keith Layne was a husband, a father, a pastor, a singer, a worshiper and a lover of all (well, most) people.  He loved good food and good laughter and had an eclectic love for music—there just wasn’t too much music that he couldn’t find something to appreciate.

He called me the day before he suffered an aortic aneurysm in Wichita Falls.  He opened the conversation singing a phrase of a song that I had butchered a few years earlier.  Our quartet was singing in Backwater, East Texas and we were approaching half-time.  We were singing the beautiful old song, “When the Savior Reached Down For Me.”  Everyone was supposed to repeat the last line and hold it when we sang, “I was lost and undone, then He gave me His Son, When He reached down His hand…” and the music was to hold and I was supposed to sing in high-tenor, “for me,” and hold it while the guys finished with a flourish, “reached for me!!”

Well, I had a brain-breakdown.  I sang it with them, got to the ending, was holding my part with them in perfect harmony… and nothing.  I thought, “Someone should be singing right now…” and then turned and Keith, Leroy and Rex were all looking at me like I had lost my mind.  Then I remembered and with deflated lungs from holding the other note, I simply squeaked, “for me,” and it was falsetto, thin and pathetic.  Nothing like the big ending we were supposed to end half-time on.

We all went into the hallway and fell out laughing, and it became a standing joke for someone to sing high-pitched and nasally, “for me…” and then we would just laugh till we couldn’t breath.  Good memories with good friends.

The day before Keith suffered his aneurysm he called me and all he had to do was to eek out the shriveled words, “for me,” in a high-pitched, pinched voice and I knew instantly whom I was talking to, what we were talking about and the subsequent guffaws of laughter were so refreshing.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give to laugh with him again.

Keith wasn’t perfect… just like me and you.  But he always had a God-bend in his spirit.  He wanted to be around the throne in worship and that God consciousness would always bring him back to that worshiping posture, and I have worshiped many times at his side along with Rex Johnson and Leroy Kelly back in the “old days.”  Great times, great memories, and great men.

Vince Gill wrote for his brother – “Go rest high on the mountain, son, your work on earth is done…”  Today I sing that for Keith…but I really wish I weren’t.

Heaven must be a pretty great place.  Save me a place, Keith…yeah, one just “for me.”

Your friend,


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Comments (6)

  1. I remember that Day, Bro. Brett. I know how much you Loved your Dear friend. What a comfort to know we shall meet him again in Heaven.. Love ya. Shelia

  2. That's Awesome Uncle Brett! He "LOVED your guts" as he would put it! :o) Thanks for remembering him and thank you for remembering us! :o) Love you LOTS!!!!

  3. I laughed while reading this one! We all miss Keith – and I know you miss his humor. Thanks for sharing the infamous story…you all seemed to have quite a few of those!!

  4. I never really got to know Keith. Jimi and Shara had just started getting "serious" when he passed away. I remember he drove up to my grandson Jordan's baseball game on his big old motorcycle and came over and gave Shara a big hug and I thought I should go over there and spend some more time with him, get to know him better, but I thought there will be plenty of time for that. There wasn't. But Keith has touched my life in an amazingly powerful way. God has given me the best daughter-in-law anyone could ask for and I see the love that Keith showed her poured out everyday into the lives of other people. It gave me great comfort to know that he was there to welcome Kelsey into heaven. Oddly enough, even though I barely knew him, I think of him often. I see him in the face of my grandson Cole, who has a heart as big as Texas. I envy the time you got to spend with him, but I bask everyday in the legacy of love that he passed on to his children.

  5. Great story, Brett! We all loved Keith and miss him…he could make you feel like "a million dollars"! Thanks for sharing… tell a good story!!