Keith Thompson Aten, age 58, chose to end his life on January 11, 2018. His many friends and family are heartbroken by this final act that contradicted their knowledge of Keith as the joyful, witty and compassionate man that they loved.
There will be no calling hours. In honor of Keith’s love of the outdoors, a memorial service in will be held on May 27, 2018. Details will be shared nearer to the date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Keewaydin Camp, the Red Cross, or the ACLU.
Born in Cold Springs, New York and raised in Geneva, New York, Keith graduated from Hamilton College in 1982. His first job after college was as a residential advisor at Charles River Academy in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bonnie Johnson, a friend from Geneva, also moved to Boston for a job. At Keith’s mother’s urging, Bonnie contacted Keith. Their friendship blossomed into a romance. Bonnie and Keith both moved to Montpelier and married in 1986. Two sons soon followed: Tyler in 1988 and Alex in 1989. His boys were and remained the light of his life.
After an early career as a Vermont State social worker, his interest in social justice led him to attend Vermont Law School. Keith graduated in 1993 and began his career as an attorney. After a one year trial court clerkship with State of Vermont Judiciary, he worked at Downs, Rachlin and Martin for seven years. In January 2001, he along with two other lawyers established Aten Clayton & Eaton PLLC, in Littleton, NH, which they jokingly referred to as “ACE”. Their practice specialized in civil litigation in Vermont and New Hampshire with a focus on personal injury insurance defense. Keith was a trial attorney for more than 20 years who tried many cases to verdict and he was well respected by his colleagues in New Hampshire and Vermont.
In his childhood, surrounded by the beautiful Finger Lakes region, Keith developed a lifelong love of the outdoors. The ten summers camping, canoeing, and eventually serving as a camp counselor at the Temagami Keewaydin Camp proved formative and cemented his lifelong love for the outdoors and the environment. As soon as his sons were old enough, he included them on his outdoor adventure, while collecting many canoes and fishing poles over the years. Keith will be remembered for his quick smile, his kindness and generosity in friendship, his sense of fun, and his extensive knowledge of knot tying.
Keith’s generosity extended beyond family and friends: for over 35 years Keith was a regular blood donor, contributing over 140 pints. Keith, Bonnie, Tyler, and Alex traveled together every year as a family, alternating destinations both abroad and in the states. Keith was a uniquely caring and giving husband, father, friend, son, and brother.
Despite outward appearances, this last year brought on a severe depression that he was unable to overcome. While he will be sorely missed, Keith’s friends and loved ones are grateful to know that he is no longer suffering.
Keith is survived by his soulmate, Bonnie Johnson-Aten; his two sons Tyler and Alex Aten; his father, Carl Aten; sister, Lorraine (Arun); and brother Steven Aten. Keith was a favorite uncle to a number of nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his mother, Heather; and brother, Ralph.
In addition to his relatives, Bonnie’s family embraced him as one of their own. Keith was a beloved friend of many people whose lives he enriched over the years.