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Betty Jane Keel

Betty Jane Keel, 78, passed away peacefully Feb. 8, 2008 of natural causes at her Big Lake home.

A visitation will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Kehl’s Palmer Mortuary Chapel. A celebration of her life will be held afterward at 3:30 p.m. at Gary Crochet’s residence, 990 North Tom Watson Place in the Mission Hills Subdivision of Wasilla.

Keel was born Betty Jane Hayes on Sept. 16, 1929 to Leon Hayes and Esther Sherman Miller in Binghamton, NY. She gave birth to Elaine Rose Hayes on Dec. 30, 1948, Stephen Leroy Hayes on Oct. 1, 1951, and Linda Faye Hayes on Jan. 7, 1957. She met Staff Sgt. James R. Keel in the NCO Club in Maryland in 1960 and married on April 26, 1961. They moved to Salina, Kan., Schilling Air Force Base, where she gave birth to twins James and William Keel on Aug. 12, 1962 and Michael Douglas Keel on Feb. 23, 1964. Being the wife of a military man, they moved from base to base until November 1972 when they made the journey north to Alaska. They lived in Anchorage until December 1982 when they decided to make the Valley their home.

Keel enjoyed racing micro midget cars in her youth. Her greatest hobby seemed to be collecting owls. Her family wrote, “She has thousands of owls and no two are alike. Betty was a true grandma in every sense of the word; she gave so much of herself, and she was always giving and giving with out ever asking for anything in return.”

Keel loved to do crossword puzzles. She would sit at the kitchen table before the sun would rise and work on her puzzles. Then she would watch the sun rise over the Chugiak Mountains. She also enjoyed playing pinochle and listening to country music. Most of all she loved spending time with family and friends.

She is survived by her husband of 47 years, James R. Keel of Big Lake. Her siblings Richard L. Hayes, Robert Lester Hayes, Raymond Norman Sherman of Delaware; Harry Hayes, Kenneth Hayes, Ruth Miller, Susan Taylor of New York; Linda Winter of San Antonio, Texas; Harriet Ludwig and Marian Huggins of Louisiana; and Millie Sherman of Delaware. Her children Elaine Vibbert of Paxton, IL, Stephen Hayes of Greenwood, Del., Linda Stehman of Harrisburg, Pa., James Keel of Big Lake, William Keel and Michael Keel of Anchorage. Her grandchildren David Vibbert, Justin and Jeremy Anderson, Jamie Burton, Cheree Keel and Terry Keel, Tyler Keel, Ashley and Fuchsia Keel. Her great-grandchildren Jacob Vibbert, Shayne Marie Keel-Casqueira and Shelby Elizabeth Burton.

Memorial donations can be made to Big Lake EMS, Fire & Rescue, P.O. Box 520869, Big Lake, AK 99652. Local arrangements were provided by Kehl’s Palmer Mortuary.

Source: Frontiersman, 15 February 2008



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