Michael “Mike” Gene Keller, 77, of Fayette County, passed away Thursday, April 7, 2022. He enjoyed his last days in the home of his dreams with his beloved wife, Rickie Keller. He was a fearless, intelligent, forward-thinking man whose beloved orneriness and gentle manner will be deeply missed. Mike was well known for his ability to make a short story long, so it only seems fitting to honor that tradition here.
Mike grew up in a farmhouse back a long gravel lane, where he learned how to farm and work hard. His resourceful, resilient nature was obtained and nurtured by his parents, Francis & Margret Keller, brother John Keller, sister Mary-Francis Barnhizer (Barney), who preceded him in death, and his brother Larry Keller (Nancy), who survives. He was an accomplished draftsman at Roots Blower Company in Connersville, but after 8 years, he happily took off the tie and went back to his real loves: farming, cattle, kids, and impromptu storytelling.
Mike’s greatest passion was farming. He loved the land and raising cattle. He felt closest to God while working outside and observing the miracles of nature. He was, however, a bit more complimentary of those miracles, with freshly cut hay on the ground and a clear 3-day forecast. Many will remember him as handsome and charming, with a quick wit. Others will grieve the loss of his wise advice, willingness to lend a hand, and his “always up for an adventure” truck and trailer. He loved a good rescue mission, especially those involving broken down vehicles and stranded cattle or women. He was the founder and ringleader of the East Central Indiana Feeder Association and a proud mentor to many new cattlemen.
He spent 39 years driving the “little darlings” as a school bus driver for the Fayette County School system. Throughout those years, he mastered the art of reading lips backward, encouraging those who were down, getting a smile from the surliest teenagers, and taking his time to break up a fight if the “right” kid was winning. He loved the kids, and they loved him if for no other reason than the full-size candy bar and a can of pop he handed out on the last day of school.
Mike is survived by his wife, Rickie Keller (Davis), his children Jacquèe Keller-Ridenour (Darren), Shelley Gray (Trent), Melissa Friend (Gary), Jon Keller (Jen Carver), Kari Simpkins (Mark), and Caleb Koons (Julia), 17 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, and friends. He is leaving behind legions of loved ones, friends, and neighbors that filled his life with love and happiness, but he was most fond of those who smiled and said “Yes” when he crooked his eyebrow, cocked his head to the right, and asked “Have you got a minute?”.
His passion for community and kids shown most brightly through his lifelong dedication and commitment to 4-H. In his mission to put the kids first, he wore many hats and devoted countless hours to the Fayette County 4-H program over the years. Memorial contributions in his honor may be made to the Fayette County 4-H Support Group, 401 Central Ave, Connersville, IN 47331.
Contributions in his honor can also be made to the American Cancer Society.
Visitation for Mike will be held on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, from 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm at Miller, Moster, Robbins Funeral Home, Connersville. The funeral service will begin at 11am on Thursday, April 14, 2022, at the funeral home with Pastor Frank Oakman, of First United Methodist Church, officiating. Burial will follow in Lick Creek Cemetery.