Dr. Charles William Keller Sr.
A pianist who took great pleasure in sharing his appreciation for music with friends, Charles William Keller Sr., 81, of Delaware, passed away peacefully in the hospice room at Grady Memorial Hospital in Delaware, Ohio, early Tuesday (Dec. 27, 2011).
Charles retired as professor of music at Ohio Wesleyan University where he taught for 35 years. His students recognized him as a true friend and champion, and placed great value on his contributions to their musical education and growth. He continued to perform with friends, many of whom where former students and faculty fellows, until June when he was hospitalized.
He was born on Oct. 1, 1930, to Ross Edward and Mildred Josephine (née Shaw) Keller in Rolette, N.D. Charles studied music at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minn., where he met his late wife, Shirley Anne (née Wahl). After earning a bachelor’s degree at Hamline, Charles enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict and performed in the Navy band in Washington D.C. He was stationed in Argentia, Newfoundland and Canada, where his first son was born. He was a pianist in a jazz band that entertained at clubs near the naval base. Charles lost his two front teeth there in a brawl that broke out while he was performing.
His formal education continued after his naval service. Charles earned a Masters in Music from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from The Ohio State University. He completed additional study at the Aspen Music School, the UCLA Institute of Ethnomusicology, the Latin American Institute at the University of Texas, and the Center for World Music at San Diego State University.
A music historian, Dr. Keller taught courses at Ohio Wesleyan University in music of the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and 20th Century periods. He initiated new courses in Jazz History and Music in World Cultures. In support of his work in ethnomusicology, Dr. Keller was awarded the Great Lakes College Association’s East Asia Grant, a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant and a GLCA travel grant to Japan. His extensive travels to study world music took him to Africa, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Russia, South America and Yugoslavia.
In addition to music history and appreciation, Dr. Keller taught piano and keyboard harmony. He performed extensively as a soloist, as part of a two-piano team, as well as an accompanist and in the chamber music and jazz ensembles. He founded the jazz band at OWU and was its first director. He also directed the OWU music department’s Collegiums Musicum, and later founded its Early Music Ensemble in which he performed on Renaissance instruments including recorders and krummhorns. Dr. Keller’s secondary performance emphasis was the Japanese koto, which he studied for many years with Yoko Ito Gates in Los Angeles, San Diego and Tokyo.
His sense of humor and fun and great laugh will be missed by his many friends and his family.
Charles and Shirley are the parents of two sons who survive them, Charles William (Kathy) Keller Jr. and Adam Shaw Keller. Charles also is survived by two brothers, Robert (Avis) Keller and John (Linda) Keller; grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Charles’ family is honoring his request to forgo any funeral or memorial service. Arrangements have been entrusted to DeVore-Snyder Funeral Home in Delaware.
Condolences may be expressed at snyderfuneralhomes.com.