Keith Cummins, 55, the 51st Water Festival Commodore, died Tuesday at Medical University of South Carolina from complications after undergoing cancer treatment, sources say. He was born and reared in Beaufort and was a graduate of The Citadel, a Sea Island Rotary Club member and father of three.
“He couldn’t have been a kinder, more compassionate person, always putting people before himself,” 52nd Water Festival Commodore Erin Dean said.
Cummins was the commodore when the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park was under construction, but was not daunted by the challenge. He volunteered for 11 years beforehand, and was so committed to the event that he even changed his voicemail to “and remember, Beaufort is on my mind,” to plug the festival’s slogan, according to a Beaufort Gazette article.
“It’s been hectic, but that’s to be expected,” he told the Beaufort Gazette. “It’s just one of those things you have to work through.”
Friend and fellow past commodore Rusty Simpson said Cummins juggled work, family and communities events like the Water Festival with grace, and joked, “that's where that time management comes into play that is forced down your throat at The Citadel.”
Cummins graduated from The Citadel in 1978 and was a member of the elite, silent drill platoon Summerall Guards, his friend Jack Cunningham said. His two sons, Ryan and Perry followed in his footsteps. Ryan is also a graduate of The Citadel and a member of the Summerall Guards. Perry is a junior at The Citadel.
Cummins daughter, Syndey, is a reporter for News19 in Columbia. Cunningham said Cummins was a committed family man whose biggest pride was his children. He is also survived by his wife, Karen.
Cummins worked for Sysco Food Services, Columbia.
Tentative funeral arrangements are for the visitation at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sea Island Presbyterian Church, 81 Ladys Island Drive, Ladys Island, followed by the funeral at 2 p.m., also at the church.
From swabbie to commodore, July 14, 2006