Dan H. Keck Jr., Former Sitka Mayor, Dies at 92

Category: Obituaries
Created on Friday, 07 August 2020 16:10
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Dan Huston Keck Jr.

 

Dan Huston Keck Jr. died peacefully at his Davidoff Street home on August 4, 2020. He was 92. 

He was born April 5, 1928, at the family home in Pettigrew, Arkansas, to Dan Huston Keck Sr. and Chloe Haught Keck. His family made their living farming and raising livestock. 

He went to high school in St. Paul, Arkansas, graduating with the class of 1948. The following year he and a cousin traveled to the Okanogan Valley of Washington where some of their friends and family had migrated from Arkansas. While there he managed to join a baseball team and at one of their games he met Betty Neal who also had an Arkansas family background. They were married on September 1, 1950. After a baseball honeymoon to a tournament in British Columbia, they settled in Paterous, Washington. Dan and Betty were married for 64 years, and  had two daughters, Janet Lee and Judy Ann.

In 1960 a family friend who had moved to Sitka convinced them that opportunities were abounding and they should move north. And so they did, packing up the station wagon with their belongings and two kids. They put the car on the ALP barge in Seattle and flew to Sitka via Annette Island. They both went to work at Alaska Lumber and Pulp. Dan apprenticed as a pipefitter and Betty worked at the commissary and then in payroll.

In 1975 they bought The Cellar which was a small infant boutique in the basement of the Franklin Building. Over the next 20 years they expanded it into a retail establishment with a broad inventory of children’s apparel, toys and family shoes. Dan, also, sold and set up Kentwood mobile homes. He and Betty both had an entrepreneurial spirit and found the challenges of business satisfying. 

Dan always wanted to be a part of what was happening in the community and the many important changes that came to Sitka over his lifetime here. To that end, he served city government at the Assembly table and as mayor, was active in the Alaska Municipal League for a number of years at the state level, coached Babe Ruth Baseball, played on volleyball and softball leagues,  designed prom decorations, and was on the Sea Mountain Golf Course Board of Directors during the years it was first developed. He could have easily been called a people person.

Dan was a mandolin picker. He played from a young age with family and in the early days in Sitka he would host jam sessions in his home for any bluegrass players in town. In the mid 1970-1980s Dan played along with Atsuo Tsunoda, Gary Gouker, Jim Davis, Alan Davis and Natalie Holloway in the Baranof Bluegrass Band. They played from Anchorage and the smallest towns in northern Alaska to every community in Southeast. They toured Japan and went to festivals all around the U.S. But their favorite stages were right here in Sitka.

Dan will be greatly missed by his family.

He is survived by his daughters and their husbands Jan and Bob Love, Judy Keck-Walsh and Tom Walsh, grandsons and their wives Evan Love and Lauren Wild, Matthew Love and Diana Sarmiento; great-granddaughters Ema and Eva Love; and his brother Simon Keck.

 

The family will be having a private service, but wish to thank the community for their condolences and support.