Born entrepreneur made people feel comfortable
Walter J. Keller Jr., a public accountant and entrepreneur, began his first business when he was about 10. He scoured the woods near South Park Golf Course for lost balls, then scrubbed and resold them to golfers for a quarter each.
The golf balls were like the string of businesses, some as diverse as coal mining and ice cream, that he started as an adult. They were opportunities he did not let slip away.
“You got to be diligently looking for these,” his son Walter J. Keller III of South Fayette recalls his father teaching him as a boy. “If you're not paying attention, you're just walking through the woods.”
Mr. Keller died Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in his home in Bethel Park. He was 73.
He was born to Johanna and Walter J. Keller Sr. of South Park. His mother died when he was a boy, and his father, a carpenter, later built houses, instilling in him a love for starting a business.
He played football, soccer, basketball and baseball at Snowden High School. A 5-foot-8 guard, he led his team to the WPIAL championship when he was a senior. He received a basketball scholarship to St. Vincent College, but after a year, he joined the Navy.
Serving as a radioman in Northern Ireland, he received the call that the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered submarine, had surfaced safely after completing its submerged crossing of the North Pole in 1958. Amid the tensions of the Cold War, his superiors were so happy that they crowded him away from his console.
“He was always proud of himself to have that little piece in history, to play a little role,” Walter Keller III said.
Mr. Keller finished his bachelor's degree at what was then Robert Morris College and worked for a private accounting company, where he met his future wife, Christine Bonosky, also a public accountant. They formed their own firm, Accounting and Associates, out of their house in South Park. They worked together for all of the 44 years they were married.
His daughter, Heather Geisler, said Mr. Keller had a knack for making people feel comfortable.
“He could crunch numbers like nobody you would ever meet,” said Geisler of New Market, Md. “Your taxes could be a mess, and he would straighten it out.”
He founded such businesses as Cochran and Keller Coal Co., Pittsburgh Vending, The Sweet King, Snowden Associates and Nokomkis, a technology firm of which son Walter is the CEO.
Mr. Keller enjoyed attending Pirates home games, including all those of the 1960, 1971 and 1979 World Series. He slid over to sit in an aisle next to a woman at Forbes Field when Bill Mazeroski hit the Series-winning home run.
“She rolled over, jumped up and down and kissed him,” Walter Keller III said. “He had to struggle to get up. He didn't know her.”
In addition to his son and daughter, survivors include his wife; another son, Brian Keller of Manchester; another daughter, Katie Zimmerman of Crafton; a sister, Carole Drotos of Bethel Park; and nine grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his brother Paul.
Friends will be received from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday and 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in Griffith Mortuary Inc., 5636 Brownsville Road, South Park. The funeral prayer will begin at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:15 a.m. in Nativity Church.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at 412-320-7828or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police officer fatally shot in New Florence; suspect at-large
- Four downs: Steelers might still be Adams’ best bet
- Steelers notebook: Brown downplays possible matchup against Seahawks’ Sherman
- Steelers find success vs. NFC
- Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
- Thomas Jefferson uses defense, running game to capture WPIAL title
- Volunteers get West Deer church’s train display back on track
- Steelers remain cautious of Seattle QB Wilson on ground, through air
- Funding highway bill atop Rep. Shuster’s agenda
- Indiana Twp. liver transplant recipient, 2, takes steps toward normal life
- Saxonburg machine shop 3 generations strong