Larry Lester Keller
On February 19, 2018, Larry Lester Keller (Amaq) passed peacefully at home with his loving wife, Nancy, at his side in Centreville, Virginia. He was 67.
Larry was born on January 21, 1951 in Nome, Alaska to Lester and Martha (Avessuk) Keller, the eldest son of six children. Raised in Nome, he learned his Inupiaq knowledge of the land and helped put food on the table by traditional subsistence hunting. He loved spending time in the country, hunting, fishing and gathering traditional foods to reap seasonal bounty.
In 1968, Larry graduated from Nome-Beltz High School, where he excelled in basketball. He was a star player for the Nome Nanooks and played in tournaments throughout the region and around Alaska.
After high school, Larry enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served his country and was honorably discharged. He then began and completed an electrical apprenticeship with the IBEW. After completing the required 8,000 hours as an electrician apprentice, he successfully passed the journeyman exam electrician test and became a licensed Journeyman Electrician. He worked on construction projects in Anchorage and Fairbanks, on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline at Prudhoe Bay and in camps north of the Arctic Circle.
While on break from his job on the North Slope, he met his wife, Nancy, at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention. They married in 1985 and settled in Anchorage. They had two children, Leilani and Chase. They enjoyed parenthood and family life.
In 1989, Larry continued his education at Charter College, where he earned his certificate in Computer Aided Design, Drafting, and Project Administration. In 1990, he then pursued a career in real estate, first earning his Realtor license, and then his Associate Broker license. He took great pride in his work, and enjoyed helping homebuyers secure the home of their dreams. He was a consummate professional, a skilled negotiator and always put the best interests of his clients first.
In 1992, Larry decided to continue his education and enrolled at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, where he graduated summa cum laude with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Small Business Administration.
He had a keen sense of purpose and used his education to promote self-determination, strong leadership and business savvy within the management teams of the Alaska Native corporate and non-profit entities of the Bering Straits region. In 1996, Larry was elected to the Sitnasuak Native Corporation board of directors. He served for 12 years, including two years on the Land Committee. He was also a Sitnasuak Foundation director for four years, and served three years as treasurer.
From 2010 to 2014, Larry was employed as Shareholder Liaison with Sitnasuak Native Corporation, first in Anchorage, then teleworking from Virginia. During his employment, he created and developed standardized procedures to update shareholder records and developed informational resources to better provide assistance to SNC shareholders. Larry utilized his computer skills to collect, standardize and routinely update statistical information for various departments of the corporation.
Larry was adept at communication, and maintained effective outreach and response to SNC shareholders in Alaska and the Lower 48, whether on the phone or in a customized group presentations. He took his role seriously, and conveyed the directives of the SNC board of directors with clearly documented information about shareholder rights and responsibilities. He advocated grooming young shareholders for leadership and helped implement SNC’s Intern Training Program. Larry was well-respected and will be remembered for his love of the land, commitment to cultural responsibilities, and advocacy for higher education as the path to self-determination.
Larry was an avid reader and closely followed domestic and international current events. He enjoyed hunting, camping, fishing with family and subsistence activities at the family campsite southeast of Nome. He was a gifted ivory carver and woodworker. He carved beautiful, unique ivory pieces and jewelry for his loved ones. He also crafted a variety of custom furniture, which included coffee tables, nightstands, book and display cases.
Larry is survived by his wife Nancy Gray-Keller, daughter Leilani and son Chase; brothers Lester, and Bill; sisters Louise Bauman, Wanda Asta Keller (Tom Panamaroff), and their beloved families; sisters-in-law Andre Leopoldo, and Jennie Gray. Larry was preceded in death by his parents Lester and Martha Keller; and his sister Mary (Andrew) Miller.
The family plans to hold his memorial service and interment in Anchorage this summer. Condolences and remembrances may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org