He was born Nov. 13, 1911 in Otis, Kan., to Henry and Florence Keil and moved with his family as a young boy to a homestead north of Conrad.
He met Vivian Venetz, the love of his life, in 1933. They were married on July 31, 1935 at the Venetz Ranch with Rev. McCorkle performing the ceremony. LaVern had his own homestead by that time and moved his new bride into a second-hand, four-room shack. From that humble beginning LaVern and Vivian worked side-by-side during good times and bad, adding additional land as it became available, eventually owning the 10,000 acre Keil Ranch, Inc. which is still in existence today.
LaVern’s life centered beyond himself. One short article could never contain enough words to describe the girth of lives that were changed by his eagerness to help and give to the community, neighbors, friends and family. With his devoted wife, Vivian, by his side, LaVern Keil left a legacy of hard work, kindness, integrity, generosity and faith that will not be forgotten, but instead passed down through his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This week as we planted trees on the ranch, Loretta Grubb reminded us of one of her dad’s life lessons, “If you borrow something always return it in even better condition than you received it, so people will be happy to lend things to you again.”
He was a very active, life-long member of the First Presbyterian Church where he served as both a Deacon and an Elder. He served on the school boards of the Fowler School and Conrad High School, as well as on the Board of Directors for Farmer’s State Bank. He was a 4-H leader, an honorary chapter member of FFA, a member of Farmer’s Union and the Democratic Party.
When he wasn’t involved in the hard work of farming and ranching, or involved with his many church and community activities, he was busy helping out neighbors and building reservoirs with his Cat. He was a kind, caring and generous man who worked with young people on the Ranch, including some who were in trouble or had lost their way in life. He was always generous when people needed financial assistance due to catastrophic events, such as flood or fire and even assisted many people to get started in their own business. LaVern also advocated the importance of education by contributing money to each of his great-grandchildren’s college educations.
Survivors include his wife, Vivian Keil; his four children, Loretta (Erling) Grubb, Charlotte (Robert) Marshall, Don Keil and Dale (Pat) Keil; as well as numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Florence Keil; an infant brother, Tyron; sisters, Leviene Goodan and Calie Snoddy.
Funeral services were held Tuesday, May 8, at 11 a.m. at Conrad First Presbyterian Church. Pondera Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
The family suggests memorials be made to Conrad Dollar For Scholars, Conrad First Presbyterian Church or the Conrad Museum.