Ronald E. Keener, 79, passed from this earth on Sunday, May 19, 2019 at the Chambersburg Hospital.
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Ronald took the opportunity to write his own obituary, as follows: Someone once said that the hardest thing in dying was realizing that the world goes on without us; that hearts may be broken of those family and friends who knew me, that the neighbors still set out tulip bulbs, read the newspaper, watch television, and walk their dog. The nightly news still came on, children played basketball, and the ice cream truck clanged past the house. Life will go on without me, without my presence or involvement, and that is both consoling and frustrating at the same time.
But I am content in knowing that I had some impact in my community for a short time: serving on the library board in Chambersburg, and in Illinois, a term on the community college board, writing a letter to the editor of the local paper, engaged in my church congregation, and expressing my concern for community politics and change. That engagement came in other communities too: Glen Ellyn and Springfield, IL, and Gilbert and Mesa, AZ.
I lost my wife Linda to a bone marrow transplant on Mar. 7, 2014, after illnesses all her life. I spent my later life rejoicing in the happiness she gave me for 37 years in what was my second marriage. I wrote about her in a small memoir, “Promise Me You'll Remember,” and thereafter worked on what I might have hoped would be the great American novel.
I grew up in Palmyra, Lebanon County, Pa., graduated from Shippensburg University in business education in 1962, and worked in journalism and nonprofit management. I was the son of Roy S. and Helen J. Keener, who preceded me in death in Palmyra. Surviving me is a sister, Brenda J. Summers, of Shippensburg, Pa., and her family.
I soon acknowledged the fact that my natural talent was writing for newspapers and magazines: putting words on paper. After serving in the U.S. Navy three years and leaving with a journalist second class rating, I obtained my master’s degree in journalism from The University of Oklahoma in 1967. I lived and worked some 30 years in the Chicago area, then Washington, D.C., Elgin, IL, Springfield, IL, again in Chicago, and then in Mesa, AZ.
In reflection I had a lucky life, even as there were many peaks and valleys along the way. For every valley or unhappiness or wrong choice there came a peak of doing better than I might have ever expected. My wife Linda was one of those peaks, who so loved puppies and people, and who was quick with a quip and a laugh that was so wonderfully uplifting. One of those funny quips was shared on the occasions of birthdays and anniversaries when she said: “Don’t bring it home unless it sparkles.” What I did bring home usually sparkled. I loved her and missed her so much, and now hope to see her again on the other side. The sooner the better.
The world won’t speak much about me in my absence, for I did little of moment. But I was a proud Pennsylvanian, loved my connection to Hershey (“the sweetest place in the world”) and I hope I treated others well and with kindness. I expect history will speak kindly of me, for as Winston Churchill said, “History will treat him well because he will have written that history.” For me, having written every one of these words, before I went on to a greater reward, saying of life, as did Churchill in his last words, “It’s enough.”
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 23, 2019 in the Chapel of Thomas L. Geisel Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 333 Falling Spring Road, Chambersburg, PA. Rev. Don Drury will officiate. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service on Thursday. Condolences and memories may be shared on his Book of Memories page at www.geiselfuneralhome.com