CONCORD- Duane Keeler of Concord, formerly of Pembroke and Epsom, NH and Ft. Myers, Florida, born on March 28, 1926, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday morning, October 4th with Norma, his loving wife of more than 72 years at his side.
Duane was a true family man and with Norma, raised eight active sons at their home in Epsom. Together, they attended hundreds of their son’s basketball games at Pembroke Academy, St. Paul’s School, Babson College, Keene State College and UNH. In addition, Duane enjoyed fishing, hunting and golf but most of all, he loved boating and time with his family and the home they built on Bear Island on Lake Winnipesaukee.
He grew up in Pembroke and attended the Pembroke schools, graduating from Pembroke Academy in 1944 before enlisting in the Navy during WWII and serving in the 124th Naval Construction Battalion in the Aleutian Islands from 1944 to 1946. After the war, he enrolled in the Whittemore School of Business at UNH where he earned a BS-BA degree.
Duane worked for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NH and VT from 1952 to 1977 and served as Director of Hospital Relations and Vice President of Provider Relations for 20 years. In 1977, he and Norma founded Keeler Family Realtors in Pembroke. At one point, seven of their eight sons were employed in the family business. He also worked as an accountant and tax advisor for Pembroke Boats in Pembroke, NH.
Duane’s many professional activities and associations included long time memberships in the Hill-Burton Advisory Council, the Comprehensive Health Planning Advisory Council, the VT Hospital Association and the National and NH Societies of Public Accountants. He was a founder and charter member of the American Association of Hospital Accountants and served as President of the NH Chapter. He served as a Director of the Advisory Council of the NH-VT Financial Management Association and was a member of the National and NH Associations of Public Accountants. Duane was also a member of the “52 Club”, an honorary international society of 52 members, selected for excellence in hospital financial management. From 1977 to his retirement in 1991, he was a member of the National, State and Concord Board of Realtors as well.
Duane’s civic involvement was extensive as he gave generously of his time in many organizations. He was Cubmaster of Pack 80 in Epsom, President of the Pembroke Athletics Booster Club, President of the Bear Island Yacht Club in Meredith, he served as President and as a member of the Board of Directors for many years of the St. Johns on the Lake Chapel on Bear Island and on the board of directors of the Meredith Improvement Society. His civic contributions also included service as President of the Pembroke Academy Dollars for Scholars Association, membership in the Concord Hospital Corporation, Vice President of the Epsom PTA, member of the Epsom Planning Board and Director of the Plausawa Valley Country Club in Pembroke. At the time of his passing, he was the oldest member of both the Pembroke Congregational Church and the Thomas Edison Congregational Church in Ft. Myers, Florida where he served as President for seven years.
Duane’s other areas of interest and service included memberships in the Cape Coral Cruise Club and the Cape Coral Sail Club where he and Norma led fleets of boats on excursions to The Florida Keys and other areas along the Gulf Coast. He was also a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. He was very active in the Masons rising to Thirty-Second Degree and was a Shriner in the Bektash Temple. He served as Master of Jewell Lodge #94 for several years and a proud moment for him as Master of the Lodge occurred when six of his eight sons raised the final two to the degree of Master Mason.
Duane was predeceased by his parents, Leonard and Minnie (Kimball) Keeler, his sisters Marie Saunders and Leah Creighton Cuthburtson as well as a grandson Ethan Keeler and great grand-daughter Nola Pope. Surviving members of his family include Norma, the love of his life for 73 years, sons Jody (Peg), Dwight (Leslie), Donald (Denise), Craig (Wendy), Jeffrey (Cathy), Patrick (Cindy), Michael (Karen) and Eric (Brandi) in addition to 22 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.
Calling Hours will be held on Monday, October 12th from 3 to 5 PM in the Still Oaks Funeral & Memorial Home, 1217 Suncook Valley Highway (Rte 28) in Epsom. In accordance with state and local guidelines, all attendees must wear face-coverings and adhere to social distancing as directed. Due to covid limitations, the memorial service on Wednesday, October 14th at the New Rye Church in Epsom will be limited to immediate family. Graveside services, including American Legion and Masonic services as well as military honors are at 2 PM at the New Rye Cemetery and are open to the public. In lieu of flowers, it was Duane’s wish that contributions in his memory be made to The Friends of Forgotten Children, 224 Bog Rd, Concord, NH 03303 or The Shriners Hospital for Children at 51 Blossom Street, Boston, MA 02114. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit www.stilloaks.com
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