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Willard Keller, 94

January 16, 2012

Willard Wilson Keller died at the Riverside Community Hospital, Riverside, Calif., Jan. 11, 2012. He was born June 28, 1917, on the Keller ranch at Cascade, Nebr. He grew up on the banks of the North Loup river where he enjoyed hunting and fishing. He attended Cascade Elementary School and graduated from Dunning High School in 1935. He attended the University of Nebraska College of Agriculture in Lincoln.
February 24, 1940, he married Myra Patterson of Dunning. To this union five daughters were born: Carolyn, Kay, Nelda (Babe), Willa, and Beverly.
Willard and his brother, Neal, purchased the ranch from their parents in 1947. They established a herd of registered Herefords that grew to be one of the largest in the United States. They held annual spring and fall bull sales for many years.
Willard was a member of the Congregational Church in Purdum and a community leader.
Willard and his family moved to Broken Bow in 1955, where he continued to farm and ranch. He served on the Broken Bow School Board for two terms, City Council for two terms, Elder of the Presbyterian Church, long-time Rotarian, Elk, A.O.Y., and Broken Bow Country Club member. He was inducted into the One Box Past Shooter Hall of Fame (1991) and received the Outstanding Past Shooter Award (2009).
His wife, Myra, passed away Dec. 26, 1977. He later married Ann Lomax Wilson, Aug. 4, 1979. Together, Ann and Willard enjoyed hunting, fishing, bridge, golf, traveling, and University of Nebraska football games.
After retiring from farming and ranching, Willard was a partner in Gateway Motors for several years.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Theodore and Neal; daughter, Willa Olson, and son-in-law Dennis Olson.
He is survived by his wife, Ann, of Broken Bow; daughters Carolyn (Edward) Jezbera, Kay (Dennis) Schmid, Nelda (Babe) Terry, all of Riverside, Calif., and Beverly Schwisow of Broken Bow; step-son, Charles (Pat) Wilson of Lincoln; step-daughters, Elizabeth Ghali of Topeka, Kan., and Stephanie Forester of Longview, Texas; 10 grandchildren; six step-grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Eldora Muirhead of Valentine, and Lillian Prindle of Thedford, and many nephews and nieces.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at the First Presbyterian Church in Broken Bow. There will be a private family inurnment prior to the church service. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Custer County Hospice, First Presbyterian Church of Broken Bow, or the One Box Non-competitive Youth Shooting Group. Inurnment was arranged by the Neptune Society, 5033 Arlington, Riverside, Calif.

Published in Custer County Chief, Jan. 19, 2012.

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