Belva Keller

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Belva Keller, 99, of Cape Girardeau, formerly of Dongola, Ill., died Thursday, July 8, 2010, at the Lutheran Home.

She was born Oct. 7, 1910, in her home on the banks of the Ohio River, south of Golconda, Ill., daughter of Theodore and Daisy Dyer Hoffmann.

When she was 1 year old, her family moved to Dongola, where they purchased a farm on Cypress Road. Belva married Cecil Cleo Keller on May 9, 1943, in Cape Girardeau. He preceded her in death March 3, 1955. A son, Fred, was born April 5, 1949.

She became a teacher and taught at Moscow School northeast of Dongola in 1945, her first year. Maple Valley School near Perks, Ill., was her second-year teaching position. Then she taught elementary grades 12 years at Dongola School. She worked at Southern Illinois Electric Co-op a few years before returning to a teaching position at Dongola Grade School. She retired in 1970.

Belva was the oldest member of First Baptist Church of Dongola. She taught Sunday school and sang in quartets many years. She gave piano lessons and was active in the church until 2006 when ill health forced her to move to Cape Girardeau to live with her son and family.

Allison Holderfield, Dongola librarian, did a video interview with her and used several of her written memories in the book "The Life and Times of Dongola, Illinois -- 1857-2004."

Survivors include a son, Fred (Chris) Keller; and a granddaughter, Sarah, all of Cape Girardeau; a brother, Freeman "Peck" (Joyce) Hoffmann of East Wenatchee, Wash.; a sister-in-law, Imogene Keller Closser of Dongola; nieces, nephews and other relatives.

She was preceded in death by her husband, parents and a sister, Blanche Hoffmann Plott, all from Dongola.

Friends may call from 11 a.m. to service time Monday at Crain Funeral Home in Dongola.

The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Monday at the funeral home, with the Rev. Paul Sadler officiating. Burial will be in American Legion Cemetery at Dongola.

Memorials may be made to Dongola Library or First Baptist Church and will be accepted at the funeral home.