CHARLESTON, S.C. - Kirtland Kenneth Keeler passed away on Jan. 17, 2011, just two months shy of his 92nd birthday, in Charleston. Born March, 29, 1919, in Spokane, he was the son of Lois and Kirtland Keeler. He lived on the Peninsula for 52 years, having moved to Mount Pleasant, S.C., to be near his daughter in March 2009.
He grew up in Spokane and attended Lewis and Clark High School where he learned to play the pipe organ. As a young man he was employed at the Davenport Hotel as a pageboy, and remained a friend of the Davenport for the rest of his life. While in high school he met the love of his life, Patricia Margaret Tenglund, whom he married on Sept. 13, 1941. Together they raised four children.
Less than two months after they were married, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in WWII. He was stationed in Cuba and in Charleston working with ship convoys across the Atlantic.
After returning from the war, he went to work for the old National Bank, studied at Gonzaga University, and helped form the first naval reserve unit in Spokane. When the Korean War broke out he was called back to active duty and served on minesweepers in Japan. Upon returning home he worked in Pasco before moving to Longview, where he worked for Interstate Tractor and the National Bank of Commerce. He was also active in the naval reserve unit in Longview.
While working for the National Bank of Commerce, he was transferred to the Long Beach Peninsula, and worked at the Ilwaco branch for several years. He later went to work at Raymond Federal Savings and Loan from which he finally retired. He remained active in the naval reserve and retired as a senior chief yeoman in 1979.
The Keeler family loved the Peninsula, and he passed up several much higher paying jobs to remain here where he was comfortable and where he did a lot of good for the people of the area he loved.
He was involved in the start up of the Peninsula Church Center, had been a licensed Episcopalian lay minister and reader since 1940, and was a charter member of the Peninsula Arts Association.
Mr. Keeler was not idle in retirement. He was active in many organizations, such as PRIDE, PACE, adult education, Friends of the Library and a local theater group. He and his wife served on the boards of most of these organizations for years. He also stayed busy whipping up gourmet meals, gardening and spending time at the beach. He was an avid artist, winning many juried art shows well into his 80s.
He also served as the president of the Ilwaco Chamber of Commerce, the Long Beach Lions Club and the Peninsula Christian Council of Churches.
He is survived by a son, Kenneth of Sandpoint, Idaho; a daughter, Karol Queen of Charleston, SC; six grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. His wife Patricia, his oldest daughter Karen (Hoffman), his youngest son Kevin, his granddaughters, Kelly Ann (Hebert), Kimberly Queen (Post) and a grandson, Mathew Post, preceded him in death.
The family asks in lieu of flowers that remembrances be made to St. Peter's Espicopal Church in Long Beach or to St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 440 Whilden St. Mount Pleasant, SC 29464. Remembrances can also be made to the United States Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 123 Washington, D.C., 20004-2608. Arraignments are being handled by Henry Stuhr, Inc., Mount Pleasant Chapel.