Eliot Aaron Keller, 62, of rural Iowa City, died Monday, Dec. 28, 2009, from complications of Amyotropohic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or “Lou Gehrig’s disease”). Keller was president, treasurer and general manager of KZIA Inc., which owns and operates KZIA Z102.9, 102.9 HD-2, KGYM 1600 ESPN and 102.9 HD-3 in Cedar Rapids, serving the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area.
He was one of the founders of KRNA (93.5, 93.9 and 94.1), Iowa City, and served as general manager from 1974 to 1998. In 1970, he worked in news at WOC AM-TV (now KWQC-TV) in Davenport. In 1969, he was in news at WHBF-TV) in Rock Island, Ill. While at the University of Iowa, he worked at WSUI, Iowa City, and at the Daily Iowan. He began his professional radio career in 1967 at KCII-AM in Washington, Iowa.
Keller is survived by his wife of 39 years, Sandra; his daughter, Nicole M. Keller (husband T. James Bush) of Indianapolis; and his grandson, Cole M. Bush. Other survivors include his sisters-in-law, Sharon (McGrew) Caruso (husband Joseph) of Phoenix, Ariz., and Sue (McGrew) Murphy (husband Rob) of Ely; several nieces and nephews; and many cousins.
Keller received his B.A. degree in Radio-TV journalism and a certificate in journalism from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, in 1970. He received his M.S. degree in mass communications from San Diego State University, San Diego, Calif., in 1976.
He was a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications of the University of Iowa and of the National Advisory Board of the Communications Arts Department at Wartburg College, Waverly, for a number of years.
In 2009 he was named to the Iowa Broadcaster Hall of Fame by the Iowa Broadcasters Association and was awarded the Russell Slade Award by the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce for a lifetime of service. He also received the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award for the Iowa City area from the Eastern Iowa Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In 2008, he was named a “Corridorian of the Year” by Access Iowa, now Impact CR, an affiliate of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce awarded him its “Volunteer of the Year” award. In 2004, he was also named to the Hall of Fame of the Cedar Rapids Advertising Federation. In 2001, the Iowa Broadcasters Association awarded him its “Broadcaster of the Year” award.
Keller was active in a number of volunteer organizations. He chaired the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Council and earlier the Council’s Transportation Subcommittee. He was a member of the Government Affairs Forum of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. He moderated a number of legislative forums for those organizations.
He was excursion chair of the Iowa Association of Railroad Passengers for more than two decades. He was active in various transportation infrastructure advocacy efforts.
In 2007, he was one of the organizers of the National Rail Passenger Leadership Summit (later renamed the National Passenger Train Leadership Summit) in Chicago, which brought together transportation advocates from across the country to promote passenger trains (www.nationalpassengertrainsummit.org ).
From 2000-2003, he was a member of the board of directors of the Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society, North Freedom, Wis., where he volunteered for nearly three decades. He received the society’s “Exceptional Volunteer” Award in 2002.
From 1980-1983, he was a member of the board of the state chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
He had a number of opinion pieces, guest columns and letters published and aired in various media.
One of his hopes was that his activities would make for at least a slightly better world. Because he spent much of his life helping people around him focus on the future, in accordance with his wishes there will be no funeral service nor memorial celebration of life.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Iowa Impact Endowment Fund of the University of Iowa Foundation, Iowa City (www.uifoundation.org ); the endowment of the Community Foundation of Johnson County, Iowa City (www.comunityfoundationofjohnsoncounty.org ); or the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, Chicago (www.midwesthrs.org ).
Lensing Funeral and Cremation Service handled arrangements.
Online condolences may be directed to www.lensingfunereal.com .