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Ronald Keller

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Ronald Keller Obituary
Ronald Keller

West Des Moines, Scottsdale

Ronald Eugene Keller passed away on Monday, March 10, 2014. He spent his final days surrounded by many members of his family.

Ron was born in 1936 in LaPorte, Indiana to Donald and Marie Keller. The family welcomed another wonderful son, Ken, a few years later. Ron was a star athlete in LaPorte, playing football, basketball, and baseball throughout high school. Ron graduated from high school early, joking that he was "just too big for the desks" when, in truth, it was because he excelled academically.

Ron attended St. Joseph's College in Indiana on an academic scholarship, where he walked on to the football team. When he discovered that he was a very young freshman playing with many athletes who were both much older and quite grizzled after fighting in the Korean War, Ron wisely decided to try his luck on the golf team his sophomore year. This was a wise decision, as golf remained a passion throughout Ron's entire life. Ron graduated from St. Joseph's, again early and with an exemplary academic record, majoring in accounting and minoring in philosophy. Ron soon began work in Chicago.

Ron met Caroline Louisa Lynn on a blind date, literally and figuratively. Ron and Carol each individually refused to wear glasses on this first date believing that it would not impress the other. It wasn't until the second date that Ron and Carol both wore much needed glasses. Each must have liked what they saw as they were married in 1958 and remained so for almost 55 years, until Carol's passing in February 2014. Ron and Carol made their first home together in LaPorte, while Ron commuted back and forth to his job in Chicago. Soon his work took the couple, and their expanding family, on moves to Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, and Urbandale, Iowa.

Ron and Carol raised nine children together (Jean, Mari, Steve, Cassie, Charlie, Eric, Jerry, Lia, and Pat). Ron's capacity as a parent was clearly matched by his patience, as he faced responsibilities ranging from teaching all nine children to drive a car (manual transmission, no less), instructing years of CCD classes, and coaching a wide array of teams. Despite the throng of offspring, Ron actively endeavored to spend quality time with each of his children. It would not be unheard of for Ron to work eleven hour days or travel all week and yet still show up to watch his daughter's softball game, attend a school play, or play a pick-up game of basketball in the driveway with his children. All nine children graduated from college, a true testament to Ron's belief in education as a necessity for success.

Ron worked for many decades in the insurance industry, ultimately with Principal Financial Group in Des Moines. During his time at the Principal, Ron could be found on the company's basketball court several times a week, playing a lunchtime game with employees often half his age. An excellent manager to his core, Ron never failed to recognize the talented people who worked with him or for him and he did not seek the acclaim that rightfully belonged to his team. Having worked in various roles for the company throughout the years, Ron retired from the Principal as Executive Vice President.

While Ron supposedly retired to play more golf, this might simply have been a ruse so that he could spend more time visiting his grandkids. Ron and Carol were blessed with seventeen grandchildren (Kate, Maggie, Ava, Josh, Samuel, Theo, Raina, Mia, Avrielle, Jake, Mike, Samantha, Thea, Xavier, Soren, Keaton, and Everett), and this was the arena where Ron's true tenderness became evident. Ron spent untold hours playing pinochle with his children and grandchildren ("Play your ace now."), listened to abundant stories of the latest sporting or school accomplishment, and often volunteered to take the grandkids, no matter how many, to the local park to get some exercise.

Ron was a man of strong Roman Catholic faith, consistently praying for his loved ones and friends - but never for himself. Ron remained quietly generous throughout his years, supporting a multitude of local, national, and international charities, schools, and churches. He never did so with the expectation of commendation and would often ask not to be included on the list of donors. Ron and Carol also silently supported a multitude of relatives, friends, and neighbors; regularly paying the bills of this person in need or that student short on tuition. Amazingly, Ron never expected or instructed that others should follow his lead; this was simply the way he chose to live his life.

The pain of Ron's passing is lessened with the knowledge that he again joins his beloved Carol and his dear parents, Don and Marie. Ron is survived by his brother Ken, Ron and Carol's nine children, their seventeen grandchildren, a number of in-laws, and an abundance of other relatives. Perhaps most importantly, Ron is survived by the great many people who knew him and perhaps learned just a little bit about how to treat others respectfully, generously, and with integrity.

A joint memorial is planned for Ron and Carol Keller at Holy Trinity Church in Des Moines, Iowa on July 19, 2014. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to The First Tee, a golf charity focused on supporting education and building strong moral character in young people, specifically the qualities of honesty, perseverance, and responsibility. All of the same values that Ron Keller embodied every day of his life.

Published in Des Moines Register from Mar. 23 to Apr. 6, 2014
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