Russell Keeley passed away on July 3, 2019 in Lindsay, Calif. He was 92 years old. Russell was the second child born to Ralph and Anne Keeley, a local pioneer family, on Nov. 10, 1926. Russell and his family lived on the homesteaded property his grandfather, John Henry Keeley, established in 1874.
Russell graduated from Lindsay High School in 1944 where he excelled in sports primarily football, baseball and basketball. He was recruited by the Chicago Cubs baseball team in 1944 but entered the Navy on June 22, 1944 and was honorably discharged as a Gunner’s Mate 1st Class on April 4, 1946.
Russell married the former Bettye Dorey, also a local pioneer family, on June 9, 1945 and they were together for 55½ years until Bettye’s death on Jan. 11, 2001. During this time, they had four children, twins Russell Jr. and Robert, Craig William and Kerry Kate.
Russell farmed his entire life growing wheat, cotton, grain and citrus. He also bred and raised foundation Quarter Horses which many achieved champion status in roping, cutting and all-around ranch horse.
Russell always lived the cowboy lifestyle. The roping arena in the back of the house was a site for years for team roping events with his buddies and he also competed in local rodeos.
Russell was a family man as well as a good friend to many. The family back yard which was home to his unique western sculptures and memorabilia was also the site for numerous birthday parties, Christmas breakfast, Thanksgiving and Dove Day parties that always promised fun for all.
Russell was also an artist, a talent that came by him naturally as his mother Anne was an accomplished artist in her own right using oil paint as her medium whereas Russell’s medium was metal. His rustic hand-crafted art sculptures consisted of authentic bits and pieces derived from farm machinery and tack from the livestock and equipment that had been used on the ranch since the late 1800’s.
Russell is preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Anne Keeley, brother Ralph Keeley Jr., son Craig William Keeley, niece Sarah Keeley Henry and nephew Brant Keeley Bramer. He is survived by his sister, Judith Keeley Bramer, sons Russell Keeley Jr. (Dixie), Robert Keeley (Donna Sue), daughter Kerry Kate Keeley. Grandchildren Sarah Hall (Damion), Craig Duncan Keeley, Katrina Keeley, Stephani Hernandez and Cassie Frasher; six great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24 at the Porterville Eagles Lodge.