Wilma Jeannette Keller

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Wilma Jeannette Keller

A Funeral Mass for Wilma Jeannette Keller, 96, Lawrence, KS, will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, November 16, at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. The family will greet friends from 5:30-6:45 in the church. At a later date, a Memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Gall Church in Elburn, IL, with inurnment following in St. Gall Cemetery. She passed away on November 7, 2012, in Baldwin City, KS.

Wilma was born on October 5, 1916 in Elburn, IL, the daughter of William Paul and Anna (Bross) Deckert. She graduated from Elburn High School in 1934 and for the next ten years worked as a dairy maid, companion, housemaid, and cook for families in the Chicago area and in Michigan and as a clerk in Henderson, NV. When her children were in school, she returned to the workforce as a line worker for Furnas Electric until her retirement in 1978.

She married John Albert Keller on April 11, 1942 at the chapel of McCarran Army Air Force Field in Las Vegas, NV, at 6 a.m. "because that was when Father Junk said mass." John preceded her in death on November 12, 1987.

In Illinois, Wilma was a member of the St. Gall Altar and Rosary Society and the Elburn American Legion Auxiliary; in Lawrence, she attended Corpus Christi Church.

She became a Chicago Cubs fan in the 1930's, when Tuesdays were ladies' day at Wrigley Field, admission was 10 cents, and you wore hat, gloves, and your second-best dress. Her fidelity to the Cubs, and her optimism about their prospects, never waned.

The daughter of an accomplished musician, Wilma loved music, and when some of grandchildren developed a similar interest, she did everything to foster their abilities, from purchasing music and recordings to figuring out, when she was in her mid-70's, how to shoehorn a 3/4 size upright bass into her Crown Victoria.

She loved to cook, and everyone she fed had a favorite—rhubarb cobbler, chop suey, roast beef and gravy, lemon meringue pie, or spaghetti casserole. (Only John loved her liver dumplings, but she made them for him anyway.) She was renowned for the vats of coleslaw she prepared for the church's St. Patrick's Day dinner.

Wilma's true vocation was as a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. She was wise, tolerant, and giving, not only to her husband, children, and grandchildren but also to her nieces and nephews and to many others who needed a confidante or a surrogate mom or grandma.

Survivors include daughter, Jeannette Johnson and husband, Dan, Lawrence, KS; son, William J. Keller and wife Cheryl, Elburn, IL; four grandchildren, Kevin Keller and wife Susan, Kim Provenzano, Thomas Johnson and wife Corey Heiberger, and Eric Johnson; and three great-grandchildren, Alex Keller and Nicolette and Joseph Provenzano. She was also preceded in death by her sister, Clara L. Hewitt and great-granddaughter, Gianna Provenzano.

Memorial contributions may be made in her name to the KU Endowment Association for the Hilltop Child Developmental Center Scholarship Fund, Corpus Christi Catholic School, or Elburn St. Gall Catholic Church and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.

Online condolences may be sent to www.warrenmcelwain.com.

Please sign this guestbook at Obituaries.LJWorld.com.

Published in Lawrence Journal-World on Nov. 13, 2012