Friday, April 18, 2014

Dutch Keller of Tunkhannock

DutchKellerphoto

  One of the region's longest-lived and most prestigious college scholarships is now being administered by the Community Foundation of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties. The Dutch Keller Memorial Scholarship Fund has been rewarding Tunkhannock High School student-athletes for their educational achievement and athletic accomplishments since 1968. 

  The endowment honors Mr. Keller, who coached basketball at Tunkhannock for nine years, and was also credited with the success of several of the school's football teams. Keller not only guided his players on the court but also in their school-work, asking that they work hard to obtain a well rounded education. That is reflected in the selection process for the scholarship winners. Applicants must be in the top third of their graduating class, and have achieved at least 5 varsity letters in order to qualify. A committee comprised of family members, players from Keller's teams, and school officials decide the winner of the $1,000 scholarship, which was announced at the Awards Night ceremony on May 20th.  

  A graduate of Forty Fort High School, Mr. Keller was an Army veteran of WW II, serving in the 95th Infantry Medical Battalion. In April of 1945 he was awarded the Bronze Star for his courageous evacuation of wounded soldiers from the battlefields in Metz, France and Lisdorf, Germany. According to his commanding officer, "He repeatedly and unhesitatingly subjected himself to intense enemy small arms, mortar and artillery fire" as he returned time and again to get his fallen comrades to safety. Dutch was also received a Presidential Citation for his action in battle. 

  On July 9, 1945 Keller and Nancy Lewis, of Harding, PA were married in Forty Fort. Nancy graduated from East Stroudsburg Teachers College and taught Physical Education at Montrose High School, and then at Tunkhannock's middle and high schools. She shared her husbands' love of sports and coached the gymnastics club for a time. She retired from Tunkhannock in the 1990's.  

  Dutch also graduated from East Stroudsburg, later obtained his Masters at Bucknell University, and taught science at Tunkhannock High School beginning in 1948. Dutch was the head boys' basketball coach, with an astonishing record of 120-61, and helped lead the team to titles in the Suburban League in 1952. In 1957 his team went unbeaten in 15 games in their march to the Back Mountain League championship. His teams were a remarkable 39-5 in his last two seasons coaching. One of his players, Jim Hudock, remains the schools' all-time leading scorer and played for UNC.  

  Keller also assisted football coach "Duke" Bunnell as a line coach, contributing to five of the Tiger team's unbeaten seasons. He coached the linemen under Charlie Shaw as well. During his tenure as Line Coach the Tigers were 78-21-1 over 11 seasons. Dutch also managed to find time to assist Ernie Holdredge in Track and Field in the early 1960's.   He died in 1967, and the entire school community joined his family in mourning their loss.  

  It's a tribute to the impact he made on the school that, over 40 years later, his memory lives on in the scholarship that bears his name and the students who embody the values he instilled in his players.   

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