Keller, Raymond Edwin

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Raymond Edwin Keller, 89, of Salem, Va., passed away on Saturday, October 30, 2010, at Lewis-Gale Hospital in Salem, Va. He was born on October 14, 1921, in Iowa, to Minnie Florence Evans and Frank Otto Keller.

Ray attended a Quaker Church for part of his childhood. He lived through the dustbowl, when “Nebraska blew into Iowa.” He served in World War II, returned to Iowa and began a career in education. Ray made the newspaper in Iowa a few times – first, while an agriculture teacher, his lecture on “Speed Milking” made the news; and then as a caller for square dances. He served as Superintendent of schools in Wyoming Iowa for three years. He completed his undergraduate work at Iowa State in Ames, and then worked toward his doctorate at the University of Iowa, but chose family over completion of his dissertation.

After furthering his education, he became Assistant Registrar coordinating veteran and high school services at the University of Iowa, and in 1964, became Registrar at Virginia Tech until his retirement in 1986. His daughter remembers visiting his office in the tower at Burruss Hall, running through the tunnel, and thinking how grand it was that her dad owned a castle.

Ray was a woodworker, and his children and grandchildren fondly remember the dollhouses, toy barns, car garages, castles, train layouts and tree houses that he manufactured. A few of his more unusual creations were a room-sized, shoe shaped slide, a monster couch and half chairs made for children who forgot and tipped their chair backward onto two feet. He frequently escaped to the garage workshop, wearing his old hat, leather jacket and keeping other people at bay with his loud yodeling.

Ray’s grandchildren remember his delight in entertaining them with his “rubberface” act, the ever-present pens in his pocket, and his propensity for making random noises. Even as the Parkinson’s disease progressed, he communicated by singing and providing spontaneous harmonica concerts in the dining hall at the Veteran’s Care Center.

Even more, his children and grandchildren remember his ability to share the silence in a room, feeling a bond without talking. He shared his interest in the Civil War, woodworking and music with his children. His older children remember being rocked to sleep to Beethoven, Aretha Franklin, and the ever present Tyrolean yodeling.

Missed greatly by his wife, Katharine (Kit) Kurstedt Keller; his basset hound, Malcolm; and his children, Jennifer Keller Berkeley, Eric Evans Keller and his wife, Victoria Stout, Benjamin James Keller and his wife, Lesley Colby, Joel Frank Keller, Sarah Elizabeth Kakiuchi and her husband, Norihiro, Joseph Kurstedt Sowers and his wife, Erin, and Christopher Glen Sowers and his wife, Stephaine; grandchildren, James Scott Berkeley, Seth Keller Berkeley, Alyssa Haydon Berkeley, Roxanne Elizabeth Keller, Jacob James Keller, Nathaniel James Keller, Tess Elizabeth Keller, Katherine (Kati) Ryoko Kakiuchi, Mekeila (Kayla) Glen Kakiuchi, Emma Grace Sowers, Samantha Jo Sowers, and the newest family member, Penelope Paz Sowers, born on October 26, 2010.

A private family service is planned for a later date.

The family requests that those who wish make contributions to America Parkinson Disease Association in his name, in lieu of flowers.

Arrangements handled by Simpson Funeral Home and Crematory, 540-366-0707.