Saturday, August 22, 2015

Betty MacDonald, Jerry - and Timothy Keil

Timothy G. Keil Obituary 
      Timothy G. Keil 

Betty MacDonald fan club fans,

Jerry Keil, husband of Betty MacDonald's daughter Joan MacDonald Keil passed away 15 years ago. 

He died of cancer at the age of 77 on April 22, 2000.

Jerry became an FBI agent based in Seattle in 1947. 

Betty MacDonald describes this in her book 'Onions in the Stew'.

According to Wolfgang Hampel, author of the Betty MacDonald Biography and interviewer of Betty MacDonald's family and friends, published on CD and DVD by Betty MacDonald Fan Club, Jerry Keil was the kindest man on earth. Jerry was unique and answered every letter and many questions from Betty MacDonald Fans all over the world. 

Jerry Keil became Joan MacDonald Keil's adviser as she lobbied publishers to reprint the out-of-print "Nancy and Plum." When publishers rejected the reissue, Jerry and Joan printed and distributed the book themselves.

They included some beautiful family photos in this very special edition of Nancy and Plum. Both did a great work to bring Nancy and Plum back to the audience.

Jerry and Joan's son Timothy Keil, 61, was killed in a head-on collision on South Whidbey Saturday on February 14, 2015.

The accident occurred in the evening on Highway 525 near the intersection of Coles Road. 

( see obituaries below )

Jerry Keil and Timothy Keil are deeply missed.

We are sending all our love and support to the family.


Vita Magica

Jerry Keil Obituary 

Jerry' Keil used skills honed in FBI career to prompte book

By Carole Beers

Seattle Times staff reporter

Girard "Jerry" Keil won awards as a special-agent supervisor in the FBI's Seattle office.

He taught marksmanship and defensive tactics and later did similar work for Paccar, setting up a security plan for the firm's offices nationwide.

It seemed like an about-face when he retired in 1982 to help his wife, Joan MacDonald Keil, republish her mother Betty MacDonald's "Nancy and Plum" book about a pair of orphaned sisters.

But the task drew on skills he sharpened in the FBI: talking to a variety of people and getting them to do the right thing.

Mr. Keil died Saturday (April 22) of cancer. He was 77.

"He was meticulous, and liked to talk and be in charge," said his son Timothy Keil of Whidbey Island. "He enjoyed that discipline. He kept busy promoting the books and took it upon himself to answer every letter from every kid who enjoyed the books."

First he became Joan MacDonald Keil's adviser as she lobbied publishers to reprint the out-of-print "Nancy and Plum." When publishers rejected the reissue, Mr. Keil and his wife, whom he wed 50 years ago, printed and distributed the book themselves.

Later they saw MacDonald's "The Egg and I" book reissued.

Born in Royal Oak, Mich., he graduated from high school in Decatur, Mich. He was class president and played basketball and tennis.

He also was class president at James Milligan University in Decatur, where he earned a degree in business administration before becoming a navigator in the Army Air Forces during World War II.

He became an FBI agent based in Seattle in 1947. He also helped found the Northwest Forum business club.

From 1978 to 1982 he directed security for Paccar.

He then became vice president of Joan Keil Enterprises, his wife's book-promotion firm.

One of his recent joys was sitting on a bench in Kirkland's Marina Park and chatting with people. His family will dedicate a new bench to him and to his daughter Rebecca Keil, who died in 1998.

Surviving besides his wife and son are children Toby Keil of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Heidi Richards of Bellevue; brothers Otto Keil of Pennsylvania and Edwin Keil of Spokane; and seven grandchildren.

Services will be at 5 p.m. Saturday at First Congregational Church, 752 108th Ave. N.E., Bellevue.

Remembrances may go to Evergreen Hospice and Health Care Foundation, 12910 Totem Lake Blvd. N.E., Suite 200, Kirkland, WA 98034.

Carole Beers' e-mail address is

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

Update: South End crash claims one, injures another

State police and South Whidbey Fire/EMS firefighters work at a fatal accident scene near Coles Road on South Whidbey Saturday night. - Justin Burnett / The Record
State police and South Whidbey Fire/EMS firefighters  work at a fatal accident scene near  Coles Road on South Whidbey Saturday night.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

Alcohol a suspected factor, state police investigate survivor for vehicular homicide investigation


South Whidbey Record

Freeland is mourning the loss of one of its own this week.

Timothy Keil, 61, was killed in a head-on collision on South Whidbey Saturday. The accident occurred in the evening on Highway 525 near the intersection of Coles Road. Keil was pronounced dead at the scene.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Jo, children and grandchildren.

“It’s just a terrible tragedy,” said Pastor Jim Lindus, of Trinity Lutheran Church. “We have a community that’s heartbroken.”

Keil retired about 15 months ago from a career with the City of Bothell. A member of Trinity’s congregation, he was getting into a new rhythm of life, spending time with family and volunteering with the church, Lindus said.

He was especially active with His Hands Extended program, which works to feed and cloth Seattle’s homeless twice a month. He was a dedicated supporter and volunteer for the charity, according to Lindus.

“He was a great guy,” he said. “He had a soft and tender heart.”

“I just can’t say enough nice things about Tim,” Lindus added.

Thomas Beard, also of Freeland, was a friend of Keil’s for about 20 years. He described him as a father, a grandfather, a friend and, to some, a mentor. When he asked how you were doing, he really wanted to know, Beard said.

“He was a caring, gentle soul,” he said.

The other driver in the crash was Michelle Nichols of Clinton. She was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle from the accident scene. She was in intensive care Sunday and her condition has since been downgraded from “serious” to “satisfactory,” a hospital spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

According to the Washington State Patrol, the accident happened at 8:40 p.m. Nichols, 46, was southbound on Highway 525 in a white 1988 Ford Van and had just passed Coles Road when her vehicle collided with the guardrail on the right side of the state route. The van then crossed the centerline and stuck a northbound vehicle, a silver 1993 Honda Accord, driven by Keil.

Keil, 61, died at the scene. His next of kin were notified by a state trooper and the Island County coroner, a press memo said.

According to the release, the cause of the crash was crossing the centerline; alcohol is believed to have been involved, and Nichols is under investigation for vehicular homicide, the memo said.

“At the time of the accident there was an odor of alcohol,” said Trooper Mark Francis, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol in a follow-up interview.

He added that police obtained a search warrant to take blood samples to determine her blood/alcohol content level. The results won’t be determined for several weeks, but she was arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide that night, he said.

Nichols is a family woman with several children, and is a longtime bus driver for the South Whidbey School District, according to her Facebook page.

The affected section of the highway was closed at Craw and Maxwelton roads. An emergency landing zone was set up on the highway and an air ambulance landed and picked up Nichols. The scene was processed by Highway Patrol accident technicians, police said.

The closure lasted about four and half hours.