|http://www.nationalforensicleague.org/aspx/nav.aspx?navid=270&pnavid=173, fair use claimed|
It is with sadness that I write this blog post for the subject is the passing of a dear friend and mentor, Harold C. Keller. Mr. Keller, or "Coach" as he will affectionately and respectfully be known, passed away this past weekend. I understand that he had moved from the area a few years back and thanks to my friend Daniel I learned of his passing.
I met Coach Keller in August of 1983. It was in Public Speaking I at Davenport West High School. For the next three years, speech and debate for me (and drama) was what Boy Scouts was for me in junior high- my outlet.
I invite and strongly encourage you to read about Coach Keller on the nationalforensicleague.org website. Simply put, he is an amazing man. He was "Mr. Congress" at the National Speech Tournament and the National Forensic League. As the photo above shows, he was a man who could (and did) command a room.
Forget all that. He was my friend. I do not say this to slight his accomplishments. They were many and due of acknowledgement. I say that because he was a great man who transcended his accomplishments. I recall reading Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden years ago where he talked about the Delta Force Operators as being men who "transcended rank." In other words, they were so damn good at their jobs that they were defined not by their position but their accomplishments. My friend Harold was exactly that in the world of speech and debate.
I may be wrong but I bet I'm close to when I claim that Coach K touched the lives of thousands of speech and debate kids. I talked to my friend Prasanta tonight and we reminisced about the great times we had in speech and debate. She beat me in a Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1986. Coach K's response was so great when he said, "Well, it's like losing to your sister."
There was another part to Harold Keller. He taught the basic speech class at our high school. Many kids did not want to take this class and some failed. Still, I have yet to meet anyone who was in Mr. Keller's speech class who did not like and respect him. Even if he failed a kid, he did it with respect. He knew better than most the challenge of public speaking.
I will miss my dear friend and mentor Harold Keller. He said that one should strive to be, "a good person speaking well." I hope I am. I know he was. Rest easy my friend.
Be well my friends,