Community remembers the Rev. Cameron Keyser

The Rev. Cameron Keyser, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Stephens City, stands at the corner of Fairfax and Main Streets Street offering Ashes to Go, part of Ash Wednesday observances in March 2017. Keyser died Friday. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY – The Rev. Cameron “Pastor Cam” Keyser is being remembered by Fredrick County residents as a man who had a strong love of his church and his community and would also bring that love and his trademark charisma to his sermons.

Keyser died Friday after a battle with lung cancer. He had served as the full-time pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stephens City since October 2011.

Keyser was born on Sept. 6, 1950, in Charleston, West Virginia. He was officially ordained by the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Luthern Church in America on May 16, 1993, and served at other parishes in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Brenda Boldin, who serves as the parish administrator at Trinity, remembers him as a kind, loving man.

“He was vivacious, cheerful, and loving,” Boldin said. “He loved the church and the people in it.”

Kim Begnaud, who handles community ministries at Trinity, said that Keyser was always pushing to help the community in anyway the church could, from collecting food for holiday food drives to gathering materials for care packages for college students and veterans.

“When Pastor Cam came, he helped me step up,” Begnaud said. “He was always about the community.”

Keyser and the rest of the staff at Trinity took a major step forward in 2012 when it was decided that the church needed its first renovation since 1949. After a $3 million donation from Virginia Stickley Eastep to the church, the renovation work on Trinity began and lasted two years, costing $2.7 million. Begnaud said Keyser as the type of pastor who was forward-thinking.

“It was either “grow or go” with him,” Begnaud said.

When he wasn’t working on the church, Keyser would take the time to help out or visit members of the church. Marcie Stern, of Stephens City, who has been a member of Trinity for five years, said that Keyser was always there for members of his flock.

“He will be tremendously missed,” she said.

Khristine Landes, of Winchester, whose family members are life-long Trinity members, said that Keyser would take the time to check up on her parents, who are in their 90s, even when they weren’t able to see each other in person.

“When my dad was in the hospital, he asked if Pastor Cam would visit him, but Cam was sick at the time and couldn’t make it,” Landes said. “With the advances in technology, my dad was able to FaceTime with Cam and talk to him.”

What many churchgoers will remember most about Keyser is his charisma, his sense of humor and his speaking ability, which Keyser was able to perfect during his time in radio broadcasting in New York and the Carolinas. Ken Cibroski, of Winchester, who along with his wife Robin started going to Trinity in the past year, was inspired by Keyser’s charisma and speaking ability.

“The way he spoke and his sense of humor was what convinced us to go to Trinity,” Ken Cibroksi said.

He said that, after Keyser had his cancer diagnosis, Keyser joked he would buy a yellow hat and wear a wig underneath it because he was afraid of losing his hair. In April, members of Trinity wore yellow hats in solidarity with Keyser. Cibroksi remembered bringing a yellow hat to Keyser when he was admitted at the University of Virginia.

“I brought him a yellow hat when he was in the hospital,” Cibroski said. “He kept and wore the hat the whole time he was there.”