Dennis C. Keeler Dennis C. Keeler, an engineer who helped bring Butterfinger Balls to the world, died on Saturday, April 7, 2012, in Winfield, Ill. He was 73. The cause was multiple system atrophy, his wife, Eileen Keeler, said. Mr. Keeler brought his experience as a food production engineer to managing projects for Nestle USA's Chocolate Division, such as the implementation of a new product design for Butterfinger Balls , a round bite-sized version of the famous Butterfinger candy bar. The project consumed more than a year of Mr. Keeler's life and he became known as "Mr. BB," after the popular nickname for the candy treat he helped create. Dennis Charles Keeler was born on Feb. 8, 1939, in Chicago, Ill. He attended Saint Christina's Grammar School and Mendel High School on the South Side of Chicago. He earned his BSEE from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1963. He worked for Nestle USA as a food production engineer for most of his 40-year career. In the late 1990s, Mr. Keeler was instrumental in guiding the construction of an ammonium cooling facility for Nestle's Franklin Park chocolate production operation and he was honored by Nestle when they named the new building for him in recognition of his hard work and dedication. Upon retirement, Mr. Keeler served on the Planning Commission for Winfield, was later elected to the position of Village Trustee of Winfield, Ill. As the only engineer on the town board, Mr. Keeler was an asset to the town board, bringing an engineer's logical mind to town projects and a projects manager's eye to keeping the town on plan and on budget. Diagnosed in 2007 with multiple system atrophy, a rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disorder, Mr. Keeler graciously stepped down from that office, recognizing that his future focus would be on managing his health. The local press praised him for this selfless act of putting his constituents' interests before his own. During his lifetime, Mr. Keeler was an avid distance runner, a passion he shared with his wife, Eileen. He completed 10 marathons, including seven Chicago marathons and the New York marathon, and was an active member of the Chicago Area Runners' Association and the Glen Ellyn Runners. Mr. Keeler was a lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs, continuing to believe in their potential with every season and offering the team his ongoing support. Mr. Keeler is survived by his wife, Eileen Keeler; his daughter and son-in-law, Kelly Anne Calvanico (nee Keeler) and Joseph Calvanico; his son and daughter-in-law, Matthew Charles Keeler and Kate Keeler (nee Valaika); and his three grandsons, Quinn, Owen and Joseph. He is also survived by his siblings, Alice Baxter (nee Keeler), Robert Keeler and Marilyn Keeler. A funeral Mass will be held on Wednesday, April 11, beginning at 10 a.m. at St. Petronille Church in Glen Ellyn, Ill. A luncheon in honor of Mr. Keeler will follow at 11:30 a.m. in the Sycamore Room in the Visitor's Center at the Morton Arboretum. Final internment will follow in St. Michael's Cemetery in Wheaton, Ill. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to support Multiple System Atrophy research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Mayo Clinic contact: Scott Arthur, Department of Development, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905. Arrangements were made by the Leonard Memorial Home, Glen Ellyn, 630-469-0032.
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Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on April 10, 2012