"Everything he did, he attacked with irrepressible enthusiasm," said Ross
Tamblyn, a close friend who worked with Keller at the Evening News, the
Contra Costa Times and the San Jose Mercury News. "Gusto. G-U-S-T-O.
Born in the Bronx, N.Y., Keller moved to Glendale in the late 1940s. He
graduated from Glendale Union High School and attended Woodbury College
in Los Angeles, earning a bachelor's degree. A journalist from the start,
he worked on both his college and high school newspapers.
A veteran of the Army National Guard, he enlisted in 1948. He was
discharged two years later but was recalled to serve during the Korean
War as a company clerk.
His first professional credit came with the Fullerton News Tribune, where
he worked as a reporter and photographer. His last professional credit
came as a part-time editor with McCormack Guides, a Northern California
company that produces relocation guides. In between, Keller worked for
the Contra Costa Times and the San Jose Mercury News, among others. He
retired from the Mercury News in 1989.
At the time of his death, Keller lived in Benicia, 30 miles northeast of
Bob Barker, who wrote for the Independent in the '90s, remembers Keller
from his days at the Evening News. They met in 1957.
"He was a good guy and a good newspaperman," Barker said, adding that
Keller liked to do things the old-fashioned way.
A few years ago, Barker visited Keller in Benicia. While at a restaurant
together, Barker noticed the waitress was laughing hard. Looking around
to find the source of amusement, he found Keller wiggling his ears.
"The most fun I ever had was when Don and I went target shooting,"
Tamblyn said. "Every time, it was like we were boys again, time just went
so fast. We enjoyed each other so much."
Keller was a life member of the National Rifle Assn. He taught firearm
safety for the Benicia Parks and Community Services Department. For more
than 10 years during the summer, he was also the range master at Camp
Dudley, a YMCA camp in upper New York state, where he taught gun safety