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News

Community mourns Carthage pillar Beverly Keller

March 09, 2020

While it’s practically indisputable that Beverly (Hand) Keller ’61 attended more Carthage sporting events than anyone else, behind the scenes she was much more than a spectator in the College’s mission.

Mrs. Keller, a pillar in the Carthage community whose wide-ranging leadership spanned two campuses and nearly 80 years, passed away Saturday, March 7, in her hometown of Racine, Wisconsin. She was 96.

Carthage hosts
celebration of life

The late Beverly (Hand) Keller ’61

Friday, March 13
A. F. Siebert Chapel
10 a.m. – Visitation
11 a.m. – Service

Married to Art Keller ’44, an iconic administrator and coach from 1952 to 1983, she became known as the “first lady of Carthage athletics.” Long after his death in 1990, she remained an enthusiastic resource.

Like her husband, Mrs. Keller earned induction into Carthage’s Athletic Hall of Fame for her impact on the program.

“We just lost a legend,” said Bob Bonn, who retired in 2018 after 26 years as director of athletics. “She was a mentor and supporter of mine throughout my career at Carthage.”

She also played a vital role in Greek life as founding advisor for what’s now the campus chapter of Chi Omega sorority. Gina Madrigrano Friebus ’76, a proud member who later took over the advisory role, describes the late Mrs. Keller as poised, caring, and articulate.

“When I think of what she meant to all of us Kappa Chi’s, I am amazed at what she taught us just by sitting in our meetings for so many years,” said Ms. Madrigrano Friebus, first vice chair for the Carthage Board of Trustees. “If we had a question, she would give us her response but tell us we had to make the decision — and she was OK with the decision unless we tested her.”

Mrs. Keller began her education on the Carthage, Illinois, campus in 1941. After World War II and a blossoming family intervened, she returned to complete her studies and earned a degree in English.

The couple defended administrators’ position that the College needed to relocate. After settling in Wisconsin, Mrs. Keller taught at the middle school level for nearly 20 years.

“My fondest memories of Bev Keller are Saturday afternoons in the box overlooking Keller Field,” said Carthage president John Swallow. “Seated in her corner on the left front row, Bev would quietly observe every game. Whether the game was going well or not, she always gave an honest assessment of how the Carthage team was faring, and she always rooted for victory.”

Financially, the Kellers supported a variety of priorities. Mrs. Keller was a charter member of the Athletic Booster Club and belonged to the Henry Denhart Society, which recognizes individuals who provide for the College through planned gifts.

Along with Irma (Niekamp) Anderson ’48 and the late Ruth Johnson ’84, she became known as one of the Carthage “legacy ladies.” They had attended the groundbreaking ceremony for every facility on the Kenosha campus.

Mrs. Keller’s surviving relatives include five daughters, all fellow Carthage alumnae: Carol Dubs ’67, Sharon Matusevicius ’70, Julia Ferris ’72, Laura Devine ’76, and Martha Fergus ’77.

The family suggests memorials be directed to the Beverly E. Keller Scholarship at Carthage and the P.E.O. Sisterhood.