For Immediate Release — April 15, 2004


GENESEO, N.Y. — Elizabeth Jane "B.J." Keller, professor emerita of English at the State University of New York at Geneseo, died on April 13 at the Avon Nursing Home in Avon, N.Y., following a brief illness. Keller, a resident of Avon, N.Y., and a former resident of Geneseo, was 90.

Keller, who was also known as Betty, was born in Minneapolis, Minn., to parents John Phillip Keller and Louise C. Eversoll. She came to work at Geneseo in 1950, and served as director of public relations at the college in addition to her teaching responsibilities. She retired from the college in 1972.

"B. J. was a lively and energetic member of the Geneseo English department during the important time of transition from Teachers College to Liberal Arts College," said Ron Herzman, Distinguished Teaching Professor of English. "She remained intellectually active and interested in the department and the college well after her retirement. She audited courses for her own nourishment and always asked how things were going in the department when we would meet at Wegmans. B.J. was a genuinely nice person, and she was very well liked in the college community."

Keller earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud Teachers College, and her master’s from the University of Minnesota.

Prior to her time at Geneseo, Keller served on the faculty of senior high schools in Milaca, Robbinsdale, and Austin, Minn. She was also a reporter for the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn.

While at Geneseo, Keller directed the journalism program and served as advisor to The Lamron, the college’s student newspaper. Under her guidance, The Lamron earned first- and second-place rankings in the yearly judging of college newspapers from the Association College Press, and earned a number of Gannett awards over a period of several years. In the journalism program, Keller directed courses in news and specialized writing, editing and production, advanced writing, creative writing, and introduction to journalism. Students took courses in the areas of graphics, photography, radio and television news, and communications to complete the requirements for the minor specialization. Launched in 1968, the program at Geneseo was the only one of its kind in the State University of New York system at the time.

During her tenure at Geneseo, Keller earned a State Citation of Commendation from the National Council of College Publication Advisors in 1967. She was also the author of several articles and columns, including pieces published in New York State Education and Editor and Publisher magazine.

The college continues to offer Geneseo juniors and seniors the B.J. Keller Award for Journalism, an annual award recognizing excellence in student news writing. The award encourages involvement in some aspect of journalism such as an internship at a newspaper, internship or work for campus publications, or as a reporter for the student newspaper.

Keller is survived by her brother, Phillip (Bobbi) Armstrong of Los Alamos, N.M., and several nieces and nephews.

There are no prior calling hours. Interment will be at Temple Hill Cemetery in Geneseo. A memorial service celebrating the life of B. J. Keller will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 15, at the Geneseo United Methodist Church.

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