On April 13th, Daniel Keilman, 87, of Chesterton passed peacefully. He was a man who wore many hats (some quite silly including hats with wigs and a sparkly fedora). He was dedicated to posting words of encouragement on Facebook. Most recently he posted, “We are blessed to live in a wonderful world. Our best contribution to it is respect for ourselves and others at all times. A good life is not an accident. It is born of care for oneself and others.” He lived this advice as it was his priority to serve the people and youth in the community to make it better. Never did he meet a person without the potential for good.
Dan was born in 1935 to Gertrude and Clarence Keilman of Dyer, Indiana. His education included attendance in the seminary at Brunnerdale preparing to enter the priesthood. His experiences at these institutions prompted the title of his autobiography, The Unordained Priest. He changed the course of his vocation receiving a degree in philosophy from the University of Dayton and a Doctorate in Education from Ball State University. While at Ball State, he met his future wife, Sharon Graf with whom he celebrated 57 years of marriage.
He was passionate about his role in education. Throughout his career he served as a teacher, counselor, and adjunct professor. For 31 years he served as a principal at Bailly Elementary (1969-1987) and Jackson Elementary (1987-2000) where he focused his efforts on interactions with the students and teachers. In an interview with NWI times in 2014 he stated, “I miss it (being a principal). I loved just being with the kids… I think that the main job of the principal is being a positive part of their lives.“ Students have been known to recount that he was intentionally encouraging. Also frequently mentioned are memories from the Bailly Funfair.
After retiring from Duneland, he worked for the Indiana State Department of Education for 3 years. He continued to be involved in education through work with Chesterton Middle School students, the YMCA early childhood education program, tutoring (YMCA, Westchester Public library, and privately). He took a special interest in those students who struggled in school, often referring to the fact that he himself had difficulty learning to read as a boy.
Dr. Keilman volunteered in several civic organizations including the Retired Teacher’s Association, Chesterton-Porter Rotary, Duneland Family YMCA, Exchange Club, Kiwanis, Duneland Education Foundation, Duneland Resale Shop, Boys and Girls Club, and the Fourth Street Theater. One of his favorite projects was the exchange club talent show. He was always amazed by the talents of the kids within the Chesterton Community.
Within his family he was known to be a busy person who was always handing out peanuts or pies and tickets to various fundraiser events, but who had time for fun with his grandchildren crafting silly stories, hosting sleepovers, and joking around with them. He and his wife cherished evening time at the beach with members of the sundowners club. They hosted many family parties to celebrate holidays and birthdays. They enjoyed visits from friends and extended family to their home.
Surviving family members, all of Northwest Indiana, include adult children Theresa (Tom Archbald), James (Patti) Keilman, Sara (Chuck) Soblotne, and Steven (Marie) Keilman. His grandchildren include Connor (Jessika) Archbald and two great-grandchildren, Stephanie, and David Archbald; Andrew and Matthew Keilman; Emily, Allison, Ethan, Alec, Evan, and Autumn Soblotne; and, Ava, Elsa, and Jacob Keilman. He is also survived by his brother, Dennis (Beverly) Keilman and sister Trudy Walters. He was preceded in death by his siblings Louise (Ken) Sipe and Don Keilman. To Dan, friendships and relationships with family members were a highlight in his life. He leaves behind many who have supported and communed with him throughout the years.
Visitation will be held at White-Love Funeral Home in Chesterton from 3 to 7pm on Monday, April 18th. A funeral mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Church in Chesterton on Tuesday, April 19th at 10am. Donations may be made in Daniel’s memory to a Duneland community organization.
Please share your wonderful memories with the family at: www.whitelovefuneralhome.com