Roger Keller Sr. – Editorial

Roger Keller Sr.




News of the passing of Roger Keller, Sr., swept the Brossart community on Monday.  Strong in faith, strong in family, and passionate about everything Mustangs,  Roger was our self-proclaimed “Brossart Ambassador”.  He was at the forefront in the support of all things Brossart and played a huge part in the development of the Wilfred Neltner Learning Center and the MAC.  He had spent Easter with his family who were in Florida for the weekend.

Roger Keller was a member of the Class of ’65. He and I were classmates and cast members of the very first Brossart Senior Class Play – Ten Little Indians. He was perfectly suited for his role as Sir Justice Wargrave, a dominating figure who brought many guilty, but non-convicted persons to an island off of the coast of England, where he went about abstracting justice, by killing them off one at a time. Roger’s booming voice and bigger-than-life persona owned the stage. He was perfectly cast.

Roger Keller Sr.

When thinking about Roger, his deep voice and belly-laugh are at the forefront. He would quickly become the focal point of any setting. Roger was a self-made man. He grew up living in what was the original Knotty Pine Tavern on Licking Pike, making it a destination spot for our teenage parties and Rog a popular guy. It was where I learned that I didn’t care much for draft beer. His grandfather had a boat on the Licking River behind the homes, and there was a riffle just up river where fish gathered and where I spent much of my fishing formative years.

While it wasn’t until later in my life that Roger and I became close friends, I was always aware that he worked hard in the family elevator business. He had married another classmate, Peggy Riley, and began raising a family. He, along with Tom Holtz and John Nehus, was always at the forefront of organizing class reunions and gatherings. He maintained contact with former teachers, and not that long ago put together an impromptu gathering to meet with Fr. Verne Hogan, our old Latin teacher, and Sister Joell, who had become the provincial (head nun) in the Notre Dame order. We visited with and had dinner on occasion with Fr. John Riesenberg, our old play director.

Roger continued to work until late in life, traveling, and even moving to Indiana for a spell, where he had a home on “Leisure Lane.” When he returned to his Northern Kentucky roots he built a home off of Dodsworth Lane in Cold Spring, where he had his lengthy driveway officially designated “Leisure Lane,” where he raised his family.

While Peggy battled and survived breast cancer, Roger wasn’t without his own health issues. On a business trip, Roger literally dropped dead in the St. Paul/Minneapolis airport, but was revived, and a week later attended a Class Reunion. He survived a form of brain cancer, and a mild stroke. I think that Roger would find it ironic that he was killed by being hit by a car – so out of character – which might have elicited a belly laugh, or at least a head shake and a smirk. Roger was perfectly capable of laughing at himself.

Rog and Peg had spent some quality retirement together, and got to see their three children marry and begun to raise their own families. They loved to dote on them, and he and Peggy loved spending winters in Fort Lauderdale. Tragically, Peggy contracted another form of cancer and succumbed to the disease in 2016. Roger remained committed to Brossart High School, heading up various development committee projects, and became on a first-name basis (Roger) with Bishop Foys, much to the benefit of our high school. He then met Diane, his present wife who was a perfect match with shared interests. Together they traveled the globe and anchored during the winter for long stints in Fort Lauderdale.

Roger had the grotto at the MAC built in memory of Peggy. Bishop Foys not only had officiated at her funeral, but had also dedicated the grotto in her memory. The grotto, with the bubbling fountain, meditation bench, and superior landscaping is the crown jewel of the MAC complex. Roger only did things in a first-class manner.

Roger reveled in his self-appointed role as our “Brossart Ambassador” and even had a shirt made which proclaimed him as such. He loved to dress up and made an excellent Grand Marshall of our 2016 Homecoming Parade, three year before we played our first football game at the MAC. He attended our Open House on an annual basis. If it was a Brossart event and they were in town, Roger and Diane were there.

For me, Roger was a sounding board. Someone who I could either vent on, or share thoughts with in our quest for a perfect Brossart world. We often met for breakfast at Bob Evans following morning mass across the street at St. Joe, where he was a regular. I would be off on some tangent when Roger would glance at his watch, announce that my time was up, and that session would be over. Roger was well grounded and liked to analyze situations and delve into all of the ramifications. He was not one to jump into things recklessly, nor was he quick to choose sides. He had his own way of getting results and if he thought you were wrong, he would push his reading glasses to the tip of his nose, look over the top, and tell you so.

We have been fortunate to have many persons who give, or have given, of their time and treasure in the best interest of Brossart High School. Were we to have a Mount Rushmore, featuring prominent contributors to the overall wellbeing of our high school, Roger Keller would be one of its most esteemed featured icons. We are lucky to have had him.