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Russell "Russ" Keeling '64 September 8, 2021 2:21 PM updated: September 20, 2021 9:25 AM

Russell Lee Keeling
February 5, 1942 - September 5, 2021

Russell Lee Keeling was born to Edna and Willard Keeling in Albuquerque NM on February 5, 1942 while Willard (Bill) was stationed in the Army Air Corps during WW II. The family moved to Waco TX at the end of the war.

Russ attended Waco High School, then went directly to College Station TX to attend Texas A&M. He became a Group Commander in the Corps of Cadets during his last year of school.

From A&M he went directly into the United States Air Force and soon began pilot training at Reese AFB in Lubbock Texas, graduating first in his class.

Russ married Betty Craig in 1965 and they had two children, Kathleen and Greg.
His next assignment was at Eglin AFB Test Range where he flew F104s.

In 1969, the Vietnam conflict was underway and he was based in Thailand for a year and flew A-1 aircraft.

He then returned to the US to Castle AFB in California and Kincheloe AFB in Michigan where he trained on B52 bombers.

Returning to the SE Asia conflict in 1970, he was based in Guam and flew B52s from there to SE Asia. After another year of being in country, he returned to Kincheloe AFB, then attended the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, graduating with a MS in Electrical Engineering and also a Master’s in Industrial Management.

In 1974 he was assigned to Security Command in San Antonio TX, leading him to a transfer to Germany where he helped develop a method of detecting enemy radar installations. This effort gave way to smart bomb development.

From Germany, he returned to Goldsboro, NC as Chief of Standardization and Evaluation. He flew B52s from this base.

Another transfer located him to Redlands, stationed at Norton AFB, where his assignment was to fly to Washington to brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the status of combat air forces.

Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, Louisiana was his last posting. He retired in December 1986 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

During his twenty-two-year career he earned four Distinguished Flying Cross Medals, the Airman’s Medal (for life-saving), two Meritorious Service Medals, Seventeen Combat Air Medals, Air Force Commendation Medal, Distinguished-Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Readiness Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and other notable recognitions.

After retirement, Russ returned to Redlands where he held several different “retirement” jobs including Financial Planning, Mission Aviation Fellowship Air Ambulance Service, and Training Supervisor on the C141 Simulator at Norton AFB. He then returned to school to gain a teaching credential and taught at the Sylvan Learning Center. His final job was to serve as the Deputy Base Civil Engineer at Norton AFB, coordinating the closure of the base.

Russ met his future wife, Lloy, in Sunday School at Redlands First United Methodist Church. They married in 1993 and had a wonderfully happy life, travelling extensively to every continent except Antarctica. Russ was an avid racquetball player, enjoyed gardening and traveling, and especially loved playing with his granddaughters.

After visiting overseas, they purchased a small RV and planned to travel all over the United States and Canada. They accomplished a small amount of this, most recently taking a trip to Mount Rushmore. Their traveling dreams were cut short when Russ unfortunately developed Pulmonary Fibrosis in 2019. The symptoms progressed rapidly just recently when he developed pneumonia. After spending over a month in Redlands Community Hospital, Russ came home to his beloved home on Olive Avenue on Hospice Care.

Four days later, he died peacefully early in the morning on September 5th.
Russ is survived by his wife, Lloy Keeling, children Kathleen of Portland, Gregory Lee (Susan) and granddaughters Christina and Annalisa of Newport Beach, Michelle Reynolds, of Portland OR, brother Bob Keeling of San Angelo Texas, and several cousins living in Texas.

Russ’ ashes will be placed in the Columbarium at Redlands First United Methodist Church at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Redlands First United Methodist Church Foundation (One East Olive Avenue, Redlands CA 92373) or the Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation: 23101 S Tamiami Trl., Ste. 320, PMB 226, Estero FL 33928.

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