Russell Lee Keeling – September 5, 2021

Russell Lee Keeling was born to Edna and Willard Keeling in Albuquerque NM on February 5, 1942 while Willard (Bill) was stationed in the Army Air Corps during WW II. The family moved to Waco TX at the end of the war. 

Russ attended Texas A&M and became a Group Commander in the Corps of Cadets during his last year of school. 

From A&M he went directly into the United States Air Force and completed pilot training at Reese AFB in Lubbock Texas, graduating first in his class. 

As a veteran of the SE Asian Conflict, and during his twenty-two-year career he earned four Distinguished Flying Cross Medals, the Airman’s Medal (for life-saving), two Meritorious Service Medals, Seventeen Combat Air Medals, Air Force Commendation Medal, Distinguished-Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Readiness Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and other notable recognitions. 

After retiring from Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, LA in 1986, Russ returned to Redlands. He was a devoted member of Redlands First United Methodist Church and sang in the Sanctuary Choir for over 30 years and served on many different committees. Russ joined the Inland Master Chorale in 1987 and continued to sing with the Chorale until recently. 

Russ was an avid racquetball player, enjoyed gardening, traveling, and especially loved playing with his grandchildren. Russ is survived by his wife of 28 years, Lloy Keeling, children Kathleen Keeling of Portland OR, Gregory Lee (Susan) and granddaughters Christina and Annalisa of Newport Beach, Michelle Reynolds of Portland OR, and brother Bob Keeling of San Angelo TX, and several cousins living in Texas. 

A Memorial Service with Military Honors will be held on Saturday, September 11 at 11:00 at the First United Methodist Church of Redlands (One E Olive Ave). 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Redlands First United Methodist Church Foundation (One East Olive Avenue, Redlands CA 923733) or the Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation: 23101 S Tamiami Trl., Ste. 320, PMB 226, Estero FL 33928. 

Read about Russell’s life as featured in the February 2020 issue of The Town Crier

And see more pictures of Russ Keeling.

9 comments on “Russell Lee Keeling – September 5, 2021

  1. Janene Loftis Jett: “So very sorry to hear about Russell Keeling.  As you said, he was a favorite of many of us. It does not surprise me that he lived a rich, full life. His first wife, Betty Craig, was also a favorite of mine. “

  2. Carolyn Wolf Lloyd: “I’m so sorry to hear of this also. Russ was also one of my favorite friends. He had a remarkable life. I’m glad he continued to sing. He had a beautiful voice. I’m sure he will be greatly missed in his community.”

  3. Linda Phelps McKee: “So sad to hear about Russ. He was a great guy and I enjoyed knowing him in high school. Prayers for the family.”

  4. Hal Johnson: “Sorry to hear about Russ. A terrible loss of such non-assuming and modest man who served his country proudly. It was an honor to have known him in Waco and during our years @ Texas A&M Gig ‘em.”

  5. Stan Lennard: “Yes, it is sad, but I know he is in the presence of Jesus.  I was blessed to reconnect with my childhood friend a couple of years ago via phone.  I was/am so impressed with his credentials, but I was especially blessed to have grown up with him as a true friend for many years, to go swimming with him at the Fish Pond in company with his dad who loved to playfully dunk us, to have been greeted as we entered the door to our church by his smiling father who shook our hands, to have played run through the line in our back yards where we took turns tackling each other as the one tried to run over the other while kneeling on the ground!  What a friend.  He is missed and loved.”

  6. Bev Murphy Wells: “My condolences to Russ’ family.  When I read his “story” a while back, I marveled then about Russ’ accomplishments and was forever grateful he served our country with dignity and honor.  In rereading his accomplishments, I’m awed once again.  He was the epitome of what this country was built on.  We are all privileged to have known him and to have him part of our class and who deserved our merited respect.  Rest well dear Russ!”

  7. Clara Sue Griffis Arnsdorff: “I just reread the ‘life story’ of Russ which he submitted a few months ago. I know he led the fullest life possible, and I share the sense of loss all of our class feels with his passing. His career was distinguished, and one which deserved to be rewarded. It is interesting to read of the stories of USAF graduates, and to wonder if we ever crossed paths or shared the same ‘base’ at some point during the last 50+ years. Guess we will never know that.   

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