The Brownville Concert Series recently announced the passing of its founder and long-time program director, James H. Keene, III, on October 17, 2018.

Jim had retired from Peter Kiewit Sons’ company as director, vice-president, and president of several subsidiary companies.

Jim was a community leader throughout his life and shared his talents generously. The arts were a particular passion. In 1989, he founded the nationally celebrated Brownville Concert Series after moving a church from Peru to Brownville and establishing it as the Brownville Concert Hall. He loved opera, serving as president and chairman of Opera Omaha, founder and chairman of the Opera Omaha Council and trustee of Opera Omaha Foundation. He was on the board of the Omaha Symphony, Ballet Omaha, the Brownville Fine Arts Association, the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival and the Lied Center for the Performing Arts. He was a trustee of Joselyn Art Museum and Doane College and a member of the Advisory Council for the Johnson Art Museum at Cornell. He also served on the President’s Council at Cornell and on the board of Girls, Inc. and the YMCA of Omaha.

Jim was devoted to historic preservation, restoring the historic Muir House in Brownville into a showcase of Victorian Italianate craftsmanship and serving as a member of the President’s Council for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Jim was also an exceptional cook and a noted entertainer, known in particular for his New Orleans cooking. He loved travel, cabaret and history. He will be missed in Nebraska, Omaha and especially Brownville where his vision, creation and legacy – the Brownville Concert Series – continues on in his honor. For 28 years he has brought world-renown performers to this tiny stage in southeast Nebraska and these performers also made visits to area schools, sang at churches, entertained at area nursing homes and senior centers, taught workshops or gave master classes.

To continue his vision and his legacy, the Brownville Concert Series has established the James H. Keene, III, Memorial Fund in his honor. Donations can be made online on the website at or on the Facebook page.