Keith W. Rawlins Jr. was born August 11, 1926, in Boston and died on June 14, 2013 at Massachusetts General Hospital.
He was the first of four children born to Keith W. and Mabel (Wortham) Rawlins. He grew up in Cambridge attending the Roberts Elementary School and Rindge Technical High School. His extensive higher education began at Central State College in Ohio where he earned a BS degree in Social Work. He earned a Masters in Social Work at Boston University. His work at University of Massachusetts was (ABD) in Higher Education Administration. He also attended the Episcopal Divinity School, pursuing ordination to the priesthood.
His social work career took him into many communities as well as service in the public and private sectors. He served as Director of the West Medford Community Center, the Cambridge Community Center, the Episcopal Church Home Society, the Protestant Social Service Bureau, the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare, and Nazarene College. He held the position of Director of Social Work for the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center, the Roxbury Court Clinic, and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in Danvers.
In all of these positions, Keith often said that the West Medford Community Center, his first job, was the best job he ever had. In that position, he influenced many youngsters who have remembered him over the years.
Early in his career, among other organizations, Keith participated in the Union of Black Episcopalians, the Episcopal Church’s Commission on Ministry, the National Association of Social Workers, The Association of Public Welfare Workers and Kiwanis of Quincy.
Keith had almost a lifelong involvement with the Episcopal Church. Early on at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Cambridge, he was involved with the vestry, training the acolytes, and was a lay eucharistic minister. In Medford, he was a member of the vestry at Grace Episcopal Church. In Hingham, he was a lay eucharistic minister at St. John the Evangelist, where he served on the vestry and trained acolytes. On Martha’s Vineyard, at Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven he was a member of the vestry, served as a lay eucharistic minister and participated in the training of the acolytes. At Trinity Episcopal Church in Oak Bluffs, for over 35 years — from 1982 to 2010 — he was a trustee of the church, and for at least five of those years he served as warden.
Keith and his family first began to summer on the Vineyard in 1965. They moved to Oak Bluffs permanently in 1993. Always active as a volunteer, even though his health was failing, Keith spent his last 20 years mentoring youngsters at the Oak Bluffs Elementary School and young men of color at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
Keith had great love for his family and friends and is survived by his devoted wife of 59 years, Elizabeth B. (Miller), his son, Paul H. Rawlins, and daughter, Pattie E. Rawlins, two grandchildren, Sharisse Scott-Rawlins and Keith Scott-Rawlins, and nieces and nephew, Christle Rawlins-Jackson, Leslie Gallagher, and Allison and John Gallagher. He also leaves a host of other relatives and friends, including Marie Jackson, Shirley Rice, and Jacqueline Taylor, all of Medford.
The funeral service was held in June at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Cambridge. On Martha’s Vineyard in celebration of his life, on August 10 there will be a Memorial Service held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Oak Bluffs (across from the Steamship Authority). The service will begin at 11 am.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Trinity Episcopal Church, PO Box 2147, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 or to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, 111 Edgartown Rd., Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 in recognition of his contributions to the work of these organizations.