November 9, 1945 - February 16, 2021
Michael Edward Keller was born, undoubtedly already talking, in Vancouver Wash., on November 9, 1945 to Keith and Mary Ann Keller. The oldest of five children, he grew up helping at his father's veterinary clinic, working on the family ranch, loving tractors and trains, burning down part of their house, and definitely NOT carving his name in the kitchen wall.
After graduating from Jesuit High School, he attended Seattle University. There he excelled in all classes except French, once buried himself to avoid being caught imbibing in the woods, and met his wife, Sharon at a prophetic viewing of "From Here to Eternity." It was love at first sight (and sound) and they were married just after they graduated.
Mike then started at Willamette Law after he learned that lawyers get paid by the hour to speak. He completed an entire day of Law School before being drafted into the Army. He moved to Oklahoma with Sharon for bootcamp and was promoted to sergeant almost immediately. As soon as they decided he could handle a gun, he was sent to Vietnam, serving in 1st Cavalry Air Mobile. His back and his hearing were permanently damaged by the Howitzer he was in charge of in combat, he was specifically shot at on one occasion thankfully by someone whose aim was less than perfect ("That one was meant for you, Sarge"), and was even attacked by a rat in his sleep - and had the scar to prove it. From his tales of the war, it was much less glamorous than depicted in the movies, but did involve the playing of "Fortunate Son" whenever possible.
He returned from the war to his beautiful wife Sharon and the remaining 449 days of law school. It was during this time that their first daughter, Michele, was born. They would spend their remaining years striving but failing to create more children just like her.
Mike briefly practiced law in Oregon before establishing a law firm in Bellevue, Wash., presumably because of the abundance of ambulances there for the chasing. They settled down and built a house in Kirkland that was absolutely beautiful, in spite of the orange shag carpet. They added six more to their brood while living there: Shawn, Niki, Beau, Bret, Chantel and Jackie. Weekends were spent camping or boating, and despite child labor laws, stacking firewood.
Ultimately, the seafood simply was not fresh enough and they needed a new batch of neighbors to listen to Mike's stories, so they moved to a waterfront home on Camano Island, which had to be added on to at least five times to avoid being mistaken for an orphanage. Mike started a new practice in Stanwood, and practiced law there for over 30 years. Baby boy Andy was born, and, the popularity of "Eight is Enough" notwithstanding, Coral ended the Keller birth roll call as baby number nine. Mike always claimed, especially when they were up to shenanigans, that at least three of the kids looked like "That damn fisherman in Nova Scotia."
Mike loved fishing, digging clams, crabbing, fixing anything and everything himself, pouring just the right amount of cement, and spending any and all time he could with his family. Mike's love of his wife, kids, and grandkids was unsurpassed, challenged only by his affection for Hawaiian shirts, rubber duckies, and fake spiders. In recent years he loved feeding "pet" seagulls and staring wistfully at the ocean... when he wasn't blasting his cannon into it.
After a stroke left him paralyzed on one side of his body, he worked effortlessly and fought his way back to living without help cutting his steak with scissors and talking twice as much out of the better side of his mouth. Rather than viewing his wheelchair as an impediment, he used it as a way to race his grandkids around like the go-karts he always enjoyed. It was his "New Blues Mobile."
Mike was a consummate entertainer. Bestowed with the gift of gab, a memory for everything (especially the things you wished he forget), and a rapier wit, he could captivate an audience and make anyone laugh with his stories, jokes, and clever come-backs. He claimed he could tell you a joke on any subject, and was never proven wrong. Mike was funny when he intended to be,...but also when he didn't. The family stories are far too numerous to be included here, but a proper biography of Mike has to at least mention a few: "And when I came to...", car ride vomit hair, eyebrow burns, "Did you strip it, Dad?", Captain Titswillow, motorhome breakdowns, wonderful goulash, Sir Roger, "The potato goes in the front, Big Guy," Pistachios, "That's...weird", Boozo, "Please give me the rope" soaking corks, Mr. Jablowme, two Tacoma Domes, Eww jobba, and "By the grace of God and these two fingers."
In keeping with his love of jambalaya, zydeco music, and earning your beads the old-fashioned way, Mike passed away on Mardi Gras, February 16, 2021. He was surrounded by his family, and the last word he spoke was"Love." We are delighted to know that he is now finally getting those "pineapples through to Hawaii.
He is survived by his wife Sharon, his nine children, Michele (Larkin), Shawn, Nicole (Ritz), Beau, Bret, Chantel, Jacquelyn (Flener), Andrew, and Coral], 12 grandchildren (Maverick, Jax, and Chase Larkin; Alexandretta and Nicodemus Ritz; Ryan and Ethan Keller, Vaida Keller, Quinn and Scarlet O'Neill, Constanze and Deklan Flener), four siblings (Tom, Dan, and Lisa Keller; Pat Emrich), and the oatmeal raisin cookies that were found sitting by his chair.
We ask that instead of a moment of silence you don a Hawaiian shirt and a jeans hat and share a moment of complete and utter chaos with everyone talking all at once: Keller-style.
Published by Stanwood Camano News from Mar. 2 to Mar. 9, 2021.