THE HONORABLE ROBERT S. KELLER
Robert Keller (“Bob”) was born December 5, 1927, in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, to Ellis and Marguerite Keller, and passed away peacefully on July 3, 2018, at the Libby Care Center in Libby, Montana. Bob grew up in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and moved back to State College, PA, his junior high school year, graduating in 1945. He attended Penn State University where he was active in campus politics and boxing, and earned a pre-law degree in 1950 with one military service interruption (Air Force at the end of WWII). Upon graduation, Bob was commissioned in the Army, serving two tours in Korea as a tank commander where he earned the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and was wounded in action earning the Purple Heart and a medical retirement. In December 1952, Bob married his high school classmate, Susan Bissey, in Colorado while on leave from the Army.
Bob always said his four favorite passions in life were hunting, fishing, skiing and flying. After his military service he decided to move west to pursue those passions and attend law school at the University of Utah. Upon graduation Bob and Susan moved to Kalispell, Montana where Bob practiced law with the Murphy & Robinson firm before setting up his solo practice. He particularly loved trial practice, and was very comfortable in the courtroom where he later served as a Montana District Court Judge in both in Flathead County (1968 – 1976) and in Lincoln County (1988 – 1995). In his retirement Bob enjoyed acting as a visiting judge in Great Falls and Miles City, and teaching law students at the Trial Advocacy Program at the University of Montana School of Law.
Bob and Susan raised their family in the Flathead Valley where he enjoyed coaching and umpiring the boys’ baseball teams, flying Cessna planes, participating in Evergreen Lions, playing bridge with friends and skiing at Big Mountain in Whitefish (where the family earned the first Kalispell Ski Club Family Race trophy). In 1988 Bob and Susan moved to Libby where he golfed daily, played duplicate bridge, and skied the slopes at Turner Mountain. Bob truly loved Montana - in the summer he enjoyed cocktails on the dock at Echo Lake while planning the annual family fly fishing and horse packing trip to the South Fork of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Bob’s last 25-mile trail ride in was at age 74. But his favorite Montana activity was pheasant hunting with his beloved springer spaniels and his dear friend and neighbor, Bill Crismore, by his side.
Bob is survived by his children Geoff (Teri) in Billings, Jamie (Catriona) in Ohio, and Jill Mitchell (Kurt) in Minnesota, six grandchildren (Ian, Gillian, Fiona, Sophia, Olivia, Lara), and sisters Tish (Ted) Bunnell, and Skeety (Maurey) Tosi. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Susan (July 1, 2014), a special needs daughter, Johanna (2000) and his sister Anne (Ted) Butler. Donations may be made to a charity of choice. A memorial will be held by the family at a later date. Special thank you to the staff at the Libby Care Center, who gave “Judge” excellent care and a reason to share his big smile and sparkling blue eyes. Arrangements are by Schnackenberg Funeral Home in Libby. Online condolences and memories may be shared at www.schnackenbergfh.com.