July 9, 2014

Love of life and Legion

Love of life

and Legion

By ALLAN TINKER

His journey to sixty years in the Goodrich American Legion Club started with a World War I veteran and barber named Johnnie Wiersch. Wiersch told him to sign up for duty when draft age. Later, he went to get a haircut there again after he got out of the service. Wiersch then told him to join the Goodrich Legion and he did.

"I have never taken my membership from Goodrich Legion," he smiled. I am proud to be from Goodrich and to belong to the Legion there. I tell everyone where I am from and where I graduated from high school," said John Keller with one of his nearly continuous smiles.

But, John Keller’s story actually began in Harvey, North Dakota, where he was born on September 25, 1930. His parents were Fred and Martha Keller and they moved from Martin, near Harvey, to Goodrich in 1938. He had one sister, Lois, who married Paul Schell and is now a widow living in Bismarck.

His father had a gas station and garage in Goodrich and his mother worked at both Doering’s Super Valu and for Billigmeier’s while they lived in Goodrich.

Keller graduated from Goodrich in 1948 and then went on to teach in rural Sheridan County schools, two years in Schiller Township and one in Boone Township School Districts.

He taught all eight grades and spoke of the best memories of teaching that came from those rural schools. "When I go back I tell the kids that they were the best kids with the best parents. If the parents are interested in what their kids are doing it makes a world of difference."

He recalled babysitting at the Otto farm, where he babysat "Brucie." Sadly Bruce was killed much later in life in a truck accident. He also recalled the two Otto sisters he would see when he went back to visit. They are now Roberta Hunt and Debbie Deseth. Debbie was a student of his later on in his teaching years at Valley City College.

He recalled other people he knew in the area: "Old Postmaster" Leedy in Denhoff, Edna Neuharth in McClusky and also Doris Barnstable whose husband had drowned; the Mertz family and their loss of a son; Mrs Vick who taught piano lessons and Thom, the lawyer, and businessman Ed Mauch.

He recalled selling poppies on Memorial Day and seeing these people many times during his visits back home.


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