Robert “Bob” Keller

Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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Life was a beautiful ride for Robert “Bob” Devero Keller. He passed away Sept. 24, 2022, in Lewistown with his family by his side. Bob was born to William Whitford Keller and Dorothy Devero Keller March 6, 1941, in Saint Louis, Mo. He joined an older twin brother, Bill, and older sister, Susan. Bob was very young when the family moved to Webster Grove, Mo., where he attended grade, middle, and two years of Webster Grove High School. His father was transferred to John Manville facility at Waukegan, Ill., in 1956. The family moved to Libertyville, Ill., where he graduated from Libertyville High School in 1959.

In his growing up years in Webster Grove, Mo., Bob was in Cub and Boy Scouts. He spent many a happy days on the Lake with Charlie and brother Bill. Their family home was just off old Route 66 where he spent hours watching the cars and trucks pass. This started his lifelong passion for trucks and cars. When Bob was 16 he purchased a 1930 Ford two-door sedan. He learned how to fix the engine and other mechanical parts. He spent lots of time in the garage making it a hot rod of the 50s. His next car was a 1948 Ford two-door coupe, then a 1957 Chevy two-door sedan. He turned this car into a hot rod with a 327 Chevy motor, four speed tranny, and a four quad set-up. Needless to say the gas mileage was in the 4 miles to the gallon, but it could run.

While growing up, Bob worked in a bicycle shop and then for an excavating company where he learned to drive six-wheel dump trucks, caterpillars, backhoes, and the carpenter trade. In 1961 Bob decided to go to college at Montana State College in Bozeman, where his brother and a friend were attending. He joined the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, attended classes and of course, worked on cars. Going back and forth to classes, he met the girl he was to marry. Bob and Gloria Dengel were married on Sept. 14, 1962, in the First Presbyterian Church in Lewistown. That fall they returned to college and apartment life. In the spring, Bob decided college was not what he wanted, so the couple moved to Lewistown. He started working for the Montana Highway Department on the summer road crew, then on to the Charlie Russell Wildlife Refuge. He received an invitation from Uncle Sam’s draft, enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in Lewistown, and was off to boot camp in Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Sill, Okla., for training as a forward observer. On returning to Lewistown, he worked for Fergus County Road Crew until 1968 when he purchased his first truck, a 1966 Kenworth cab over and started hauling for Builders Transport out of Great Falls. In fall of 1971 Bob purchased a new 1972 Kenworth conventional from Kenworth in Spokane, Wash. In 1978 Bob decided to strike out on his own, buying and selling building materials, the beginnings of Western Pacific Incorporation. Bob drove over two million miles before retiring in 1996. The last load Bob hauled was the new plant machinery for Casino Creek Concrete in Lewistown.

Marvin Mathison, knew he was retiring and offered him a job driving a belly dump for the summer which lasted until his second retirement in 2010. In the winter months Bob got back into his hobby of building Hot Rods; first a 1936 Ford Cabriolet with a 429 engine, C6 tranny, 9” Ford rear end, Mustang front end, which drove on the highway like a new car. Next was a 1929 Ford two-door sedan with an I rock 305 engine, 350 tranny, 9” Ford rear end, Mustang front end and drives like a dream. Bob and Gloria traveled more than 100,000 miles going all over the U.S. to Rod Runs with these two cars. The next build was a 1948 Ford F1 pickup for friends, Ray and Donna Petersen. One last project that never got completed was an alloriginal 1950 five-window Chevy pickup because of his failing health.

In May of 1966 Bob and Gloria moved to the place, where they still reside and purchased in 1971. Over the years they raised cattle, sheep and raised and sold hay.

Bob leaves behind Gloria Dengel Keller, his wife of 60 years; daughter, Robin Fisk; grandson, Ryan Fisk; twin brother, Bill Keller; Mike and Leda McReynolds; Angie and Cameron Berger and their children Jake, Ian and Leona; Sarah and Chris Aamold; Kelly and Kyle Chambers; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Susan Keller Muether; nephew, John Muether, Jr.; brother-in law and sister-in law, Georgia Dengel Mitchell and Ron Mitchell.

Celebration of Bob’s life will be held with Graveside Services and Military Honors at the Lewistown City Cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Bob’s name to Hospice of Central Montana, or the charity of your choice.

Arrangements are under the care of Creel Funeral Home. Bob’s family and friends can share memories and condolences at www.creelfuneralhome.com.

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