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Pagosa bids farewell to exceptional public servant

Residents of Pagosa bid a fond farewell to community healthcare provider Dan Keuning. Dan has been a faithful servant of our town since 1994.

For those of us who live in Pagosa, one thing is clear about Dan Keuning: he loves to take care of people. No matter what their circumstance, no matter what their station in life, nearly everyone in Pagosa has been cared for by him.

After spending their honeymoon here, Dan and his wife, Lisl, decided to make Pagosa their home. Dan was hired by Mercy Hospital to open Home Health and Hospice in Pagosa. During that time, they lived south at Snow Wolf Lodge, which they helped reopen after it was closed for five years. After working for Snow Wolf, Dan went back to school to get his master’s in nursing. He worked with the Pagosa EMTs and taught classes.

The Keunings have been servants outside of Pagosa as well. After finishing his master’s degree, Dan moved his young family to Alaska for a time, where he worked for the native Alaskans, flying out to remote villages to provide healthcare and education. At one point, Dan was instrumental in identifying an outbreak of meningitis at a particularly remote Alaskan village that could have proven devastating had Dan’s quick thinking and astute diagnostic skills not caught the infection before it became widespread.

When the Keunings returned to Pagosa, Dan joined the Mary Fisher Clinic as a family nurse practitioner. When Mary Fisher closed in 2003, he moved to Pagosa Family Medicine. He also served as deputy coroner and worked as the jail nurse.

“God put him here to serve others, be it bringing a new life into the world or helping them move on to the next,” said Dan’s wife, Lisl. “He is just doing what God has created him to do.”

For Dan, it has always been the people that have been important. He makes frequent house calls. He is keenly aware of the financial burdens health care can have on families and endeavors to provide reasonable, affordable service.

In 2005, the Keunings continued their service to those in need and made their first medical missions trip to Manzanillo, Mexico. While there, they delivered much-needed medicines and supplies to Casa Hogar Orphanage. The following year they returned to open a clinic to better serve the orphans. In 2007, they expanded their reach to include health care for destitute migrant workers in the surrounding countryside of Manzanillo. The Keunings now spend their annual vacation in Manzanillo, where they are a favorite of the kids at Casa Hogar Orphanage.

“Caring for others is more than a profession for Dan. It is a calling,” said Pastor Jeff Daley of Grace Church. For as long as they foresee, the Keunings plan to serve abroad in Manzanillo.

First and foremost, Dan is a family man. His joy is spending time with his lovely wife Lisl and their three children: Jake, Josh and Kylie. When asked why Dan has been so loved in Pagosa, his oldest son Jake replied matter-of-factly, “Everyone relies on him; they trust him.”

In keeping with this special calling on their lives, the Keuning family is moving to Grand Rapids, Mich., where Dan will be starting a palliative care program for Spectrum Health, providing healthcare for patients with chronic diseases. Grand Rapids is gaining a great treasure in the Keunings. While it is bittersweet to see them go, the treasure that remains are the memories surrounding their friendships and servant hearts to our community. Our deepest thanks, prayers and well-wishes go with Dan and family. You will be missed. Visit often.