Joseph Henry Keller 87, passed away peacefully January 2, 2022 at Portneuf Medical Center after the debilitating effects of aging and pneumonia. Joe was born June 6, 1934 in Baltimore, Maryland to John W Keller Sr and Josephine L Bates-Keller, both of Baltimore. Since his mother was already called, Jo, the family nicknamed him Jim and it stuck until he left for college. His parents separated early in his childhood and he was raised primarily by his mother.
Joe attended elementary and an all boys high school in Baltimore. He was active on the track team but his real love was bike racing, which he and his friends trained for on the busy city streets and adjoining roads in the countryside. Despite broken collarbones and lost teeth from landing on an occasional car hood, he was Maryland junior champion in the ten mile race. He also loved theatre and music and volunteered, cast and crew in local productions of summer stock. He and a friend also earned some money cleaning kennels for a veterinarian whos client had imported a champion Irish Wolfhound. The dog was scheduled to compete in all the prestigious upcoming national shows, but the owner was receiving death threats to the dog. Joe and his friend, in a suite and tie of course, traveled with and babysat the dog at each show safely.
About this time, Joe also became interested in photography and worked for a professional portrait photographer in Baltimore where he learned dark room techniques of lighting, dodging, burning paper and film combination. He acquired a roughly 50 year old press camera that was discarded because the lens had a large crack across it. However, the lens was so securely mounted that Joe took several thousand photos over the years and the defect never showed. He took most of the informal pictures for his high school publications and continued to do the same when he entered Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland in fall of 1952, to major in Chemistry. The following year he was hired as a chem-labratory assitant. In 1954 Anna-Lucy Allspach of Chestertown enrolled also in majoring in chemistry. Common interests in sports, music theatre, and animals were evident.
In the spring of 1955 the colleges Washington Players were invited to present the play "Harvey" to the Air Force Base at Keflavik, Iceland. The military air transport service(MATS) provided it at no charge to the college or the players. The following spring, MATS once again invited the players, this time to the Air Force Base at Lajes Field in the Azores Islands to present the play, "My Three Angels". Joe and Anna Lucy were both in the casts on these two trips.
Joe received his BS in Chemistry in 1956 and entered grad school at Pennsylvania State University. Anna Lucy received her BS in Chemistry in 1958 and she and Joe were married June 14, 1958 in Chestertown. She also joined him at Penn State grad school. Joe received his masters degree in Chemistry from PSU and applied for a job for teaching chemistry at then Idaho State College. The cross country drive in 1961 clinched the deal and Joe taught for 5 years at now Idaho State University. Leisure times were spent with a growing barn full of horses and competitions throughout the west as well as years of camping and exploring the outdoors with friends. Joe went to work at the chemical plant of the Idaho National Laboratory Nuclear Reactor Site on the desert and continued there until his retirement after which he continued the work he loved as an independent contractor. He re-retired in 2019.
Joe was a natural teacher and he found his challenges, frustrations, satisfactions, and friendships all wrapped up in a program in which he believed. His early involvement in the developing in the 1980's of FEMAs Radiological Emergency Preparedness program or REPP helped to insure the confidence of the public that nuclear energy sites could be more safely monitored by trained observers working with local public and private entities. Joe taught many of these coursed and evaluated many exercises being played around the country. He loved good food and always found interesting places to share with friends and co-workers. He was also sent by the U.S. to Egypt and to Taiwan to evaluate and advise their nuclear power facilities on setting up similar programs in the 1980's.
Joe is survived by his wife of 63 years. He had 3 nieces and 1 nephew. His wish to be cremated was honored. The over whelming heartfelt tributes expressed by those he touched are gratefully acknowledged. No services will be held at this time. Arrangements are under the direction of Cornelison Funeral Home, 431 N 15th Ave., Pocatello. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.cornelisonfh.com 208-232-0542
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