Ralph A. Keeler, 91 years young, of Red Hook, NY, passed away on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at Ferncliff Nursing Home in Rhinebeck.
Ralph was born on June 13, 1926, in Claverack, NY, to the late Adam and Etta Mae (Rightmyer) Keeler.
Ralph married Phyllis (Klyne) Keeler on August 24th, 1954 in Valatie, NY and they have been happily married for over 63 years. Phyllis resides at their home in Red Hook.
Ralph was a navigator in the United States Navy for over 20 years. Some notable moments while serving was being a part of the first ship to land on the Japanese Mainland in August of 1945, after the surrender of WWII. In 1953 he helped open the first recruiting station in Kingston, NY. From 1955- 1958, Ralph participated in the first three “ Deep Freeze” operations to Antarctica on board the USS Nespelen, including an Admiral Byrd expedition. In May 1959, Ralph was aboard the USS Kiowa which picked up the first “space monkeys” - Able & Baker. Ralph travelled to almost every country during his 20 year career.
Following his career in the US Navy, Ralph became a fruit farmer - running Philips Orchards in Claverack and Geiger Orchards in Red Hook.
One of his passions in life was playing baseball, which he was very good at. He played against greats like Bob Feller and was given an offer to play AAA for the NY Yankees. He was an avid NY Mets and NY Giants fan (even when it was hard to be). He loved college football too- Go Alabama! Ralph coached and umpired little league and was instrumental in planning the rec park ball fields.
Ralph loved his animals and was devoted to his family pets (Nell, Simon Theo, Abby, Chloe, Emma & his birds). He also enjoyed reading Westerns, gardening, playing games, bowling and fishing in the Adirondacks.
Ralph was a longtime member of the Red Hook United Methodist Church where he served on many committees and maintained the building and grounds for years.
In addition to his loving wife, Ralph is survived by his sister Alice Wood of Gainesville, FL; his children Raymond Keeler of Red Hook, NY, Mark Keeler of Myrtle Beach, SC, Susan (Steven) Race of Red Hook, NY, Michael (Denise) Keeler of San Antonio, TX, Ralph Painter of Springfield , OR, and Robert (Connie) Painter of McMinnville, OR; his grandchildren, Stephanie, Jason, Melanie, Samantha, Adam, Andrew, Patrick, Ryan, Robert, Michael, Crystal and Tiffany; along with numerous great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and extended family and friends.
In addition to his parents, Ralph is predeceased by his three brothers Clinton, Donald and Duane.
The family would like to thank the staff at Ferncliff Nursing Home (Wing 2B, OT & PT) and the nurses on the 2nd floor CT stepdown at Vassar Brothers Medical Center for their wonderful care and support.
Friends may call at the Burnett & White Funeral Home on Friday January 5th, 2018 from 4 to 7PM.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday January 6th, 2018 at Red Hook United Methodist Church. Pastor Nikki Edleman will officiate. Burial will follow at Valley View Cemetery, Germantown, NY.
Memorial donations may be made in Ralph’s memory to the Red Hook United Methodist Church at 4 Church St., Red Hook, NY 12571.
Arrangements are under the direction of Burnett & White Funeral Homes 7461 S. Broadway, Red Hook, NY.
For directions, or to sign the online guest book, please visit www.Burnett-White.com.