Thomas “Tom” Keller, 64, of Kiel died peacefully in his sleep Monday morning, Oct. 19, 2020 at the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice facility in Sheboygan Falls following a three-year battle with cancer.
Tom was born Sept. 23, 1956 in Waukegan, Illinois, the son of the late Ray Keller and Diann (Kennedy) Keller. Following attendance at St. Anastasia Catholic School in Waukegan, he moved with his family to Kiel in seventh grade. He was a 1974 graduate of Kiel High School. On May 25, 1984 he married Bernice Schnell. Tom was employed for nearly 20 years at Kohler Co., after which he worked at the A. A. Laun Lumber Company. For the last 20 years, he worked as a delivery driver for Henning’s Cheese, during which time he forged a number of great friendships.
The bulk of Tom’s free time was spent in his workshop where he re-purposed barn boards and other wood into bird houses, benches, frames, etc. The Kiel dump became a regular stop for him, where he would reclaim discarded doors, window frames, and other items, re-crafting them into decorative pieces. Recognizing his affinity for the city dump site—and with Tom’s blessing—the City Council recently voted to re-name it in his honor as the Keller Community Drop-Off Site. He served as a Kiel city alderman from 1986 to 1989 and 2002 to 2016, and as mayor from 1989 to 1993. In addition to rooting for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears, his personal sport of choice was beanbags. He began playing the game at the age of 17 and he shot every year through 2019, falling just three years short of his 50-year goal.
Survivors include his wife Bernice of 36 years; two daughters, Carrie Tyler of Joplin, Missouri and Traci Schnell (Lee Bonde) of Kiel; two sons, Drew Keller (Annie Baldwin) of Kiel and Matthew Keller (Emily Moss) of Oshkosh; two granddaughters, Bernadine and Sarah Tyler; his mother, Diann Keller of Kiel; two sisters, Christine (Charles) Vavrek of Kaukauna and Kathleen (William) Kleiber of Sarasota, Florida; brother-in-law Richard (Dorothy) Schnell; along with nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.
He was preceded in death by his father, Ray Keller; daughter Valerie Keller; father-in-law and mother-in-law Roland and Hattie Schnell; and brother-in law Sherman (Rosemarie) Schnell.
Per Tom’s wishes, cremation has taken place and private family services will be held at Meiselwitz-Vollstedt Funeral Home, Kiel. Burial will be in S.S. Peter & Paul Catholic Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a memorial will be established in his name.
Tom’s family would like to thank his oncologist Dr. H. Marshall Matthews of Sheboygan, staff at both the University Hospital in Madison and St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, as well as the Sharon S. Richardson Hospice staff and home care nurses for the care and compassion provided to him over the last few months.