Choir Spotlight on John Keller
If you have ever handled hissing cockroaches or worn a fluffy red suit in the weeks leading up to Christmas, then you may have something in common with John Keller.
John was born in Philadelphia, where he attended elementary and junior high school. John then attended an all-boy high school in North Philadelphia. “College attendance was sporadic, so I prefer to say I graduated from the SOHK (School of Hard Knocks),” quips John.
John remembers getting involved in music at his childhood church. “My brother and I sang in the younger age choirs and attended Sunday school. Singing was a big part of the Sunday school hour.” John’s father also sang in the church choir. “My dad loved singing and belonged to the Quaker City Chorus, a large barbershop group in Philly, as well as a barbershop quartet.”
“My brother was the musician in the house, learning to play the accordion, piano, and organ. The rest of the family were singers, including my mother and younger sister.
As time passed, I taught myself to play the Hammond Spinet organ well enough to make myself happy. I also taught myself a few chords on the guitar, but it has been sitting in my closet now for close to 25 years.”
Married at a young age, John and his first wife had two children: John and Elaine. After the divorce, John moved to the Twin Cities in 1980, met Sandra at a bus stop, and later married her. “The years have reduced the number of Kellers. My father, mother, brother, and daughter have all died. My son, his wife, and their two children live in Alaska. My sister and her husband live in Philadelphia.”
John’s career in computers includes work as a computer operator and programmer at the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia, and as a programmer at a consulting firm in Minnesota. One of his co-workers in Philadelphia worked on the first large computer ever made!
“Sandra and I both joined River Hills Church in the early ’90s, but did not attend regularly until Pastor Sarazin started. At that time, we became more involved in church through the Disciple classes, eventually leading the classes for two years.”
What made John decide to join the Chancel Choir? Well, since John enjoyed singing and attended worship regularly, the choir members could hear him as they entered the sanctuary during the first hymn. On Easter, he always joined the choir to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus”. “Eventually, encouraged by members of the choir, I decided to join the Chancel Choir. This was the same year that JW became our Director. Since then, I can be found singing bass in the choir.” Note: John forgot to mention that he is part of a very important tradition at our Christmas Eve services, where he sings the first verse of “Silent Night” in German!
“Singing in our choir has enabled me to share the small gift of song that I’ve received. I’ve also tried to share a bit of myself by wearing a red suit in December, trying to bring a smile to the faces of children for a moment in time.” John has also volunteered for several years with Habitat forHumanity and for 7 years with the Minnesota Zoo. “I thoroughly enjoyed being stationed in the Zoo Lab, where people could touch different animals and insects. My favorites included corn snakes, boa constrictors, blue-tongued skinks, chinchillas, giant African millipedes … and, hissing cockroaches!
“Do I have any deep thoughts to share?”
“Try this poem: Haiku about kids
Just blank slates when
They learn all from us.”