Kind, loving, sensitive, quick-witted, hysterical
Tyler was a kindhearted, witty person who loved making people laugh. His father says that he
misses the way Tyler would giggle when he was about to say something that would make people laugh. Tyler stood up for people being bullied. He was also very athletic and spent a lot of time playing disc golf, snowboarding, biking, and walking through state parks with his sister. In high school, Tyler played football and was extremely proud to be on a team that went from hardly winning games to being state champions in his senior year.
Tyler enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, like spending time with his family, friends, and his
Goldendoodle, Tedi. Growing up, Tyler was close to his brother, Matt, and sister Courtney. They
loved doing puzzles together, and to prolong the joy, he would go to bed with the last few puzzle
pieces so that they would have to work on it again the next day. One of Tyler’s favorite traditions
was Christmas eve, when he would spend the night at his aunt and uncle’s house and get to watch
his younger cousin’s faces light up experiencing Santa’s visit. He especially enjoyed eating
Christmas breakfast afterward.
Tyler was an intelligent person who succeeded at school, so after graduating high school he
attended college at Wilmington University. Unfortunately, his addiction kept him from finishing college; he was one class away from a degree when he passed. More than anything, Tyler wanted to stay in recovery and finish school. Beginning recovery, Tyler moved to Colorado, and while he loved it there, it was difficult for him to be so far away from his family. He was especially close to his grandparents and was devastated not being around them. As an adult, Tyler worked as a banker and a banquet server. He valued his job and his coworkers and appreciated the diversity of people he got to be around, particularly the pets he met in the bank drive-thru.
Though Tyler’s addiction brought him shame, his family says they were never ashamed of him, only
worried for his safety. Tyler’s parents say, “After Tyler’s death we were open about his addiction. We were all suffering in silence because of the stigma. Addiction doesn’t define who Tyler was, and we were extremely proud of the kind, sensitive person he was. We felt that this happened in our family for a reason and that we would continue to make a difference in the local community for him, so we started the nonprofit, ‘atTAcK addiction.’” Tyler’s best friend “Big Rick”, who also struggled with substance use disorder (SUD) but is now in recovery, speaks to young people for this nonprofit about the risks of SUD. They host a 5K rally every year around Ty’s birthday to remember loved ones in their community that were lost to addiction and to celebrate those who continue to fight for their recovery.
Tyler’s parents, Don and Jeanne Keister, provided the information for this narrative.
March 1, 1988 – December 23, 2012-Age 24
Portrait Artist: Theresa Clower
Narrative Writer: Victoria Estes