Retired OU Professor Remembers Well-Known Author Daniel Keyes

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In Lester Marks’ living room, against the far wall is a built-in bookcase, filled with not just a lifetime of books but also of memories — the books themselves a story, separate from the story between the covers.

“I have a shelf of friends’ writings,” Marks said.

Among those he counts as a close friend is Daniel Keyes, who died Sunday at the age of 86. Keyes best known novel, Flowers for Algernon is considered a science fiction classic. 

Marks and Keyes spent years together as friend as colleagues in the English Department at Ohio University.  Marks taught American literature. Keyes taught creative writing.

“It was extremely friendly and we felt close as people,” Marks said.

Marks and Keyes daughters are still good friends today, according to Marks and he remembers his good friend as a vibrant man who worked hard but also knew how to have fun.

“He was a born researcher. He loved statistics, good at math,” Marks remembers. “When he gambled or played poker you could see that element coming out. He worked every single day.”

Fun and serious is also how Marks’ wife Mimi Hart remembers Keyes. Hart took one of his classes as an undergraduate at OU.

“That is my memory of him, as a fun, funny, serious, lots of comments, fiction teacher.”

Marks believes Keyes stories about the human mind will impact generations to come.

“My guess is that both scientists and teachers will be using it to provide insights into the human mind,” he said.