Robert W. “Bob” Keiper, 69, passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends on July 18, 2014.
Keiper was born to Alyce and H.C. “Mike” Keiper of Gibbon, Neb. He married the love of his life, Helen Mae “Toots” Bengtson of Trumbull, Neb. He obtained a bachelor of arts degree from Kearney State Teachers College and a master's degree in theater education along with a Ph.D. in education from the University of Northern Colorado. He taught at high schools in Nebraska and Colorado, at the University of Southern Illinois and retired from Western Washington University as a tenured professor in the Woodring College of Education.
Keiper started at Western in 1990. In 2008, he was recognized with the Excellence in Teaching Award.
"His work in the preparation of future teachers is outstanding and has led to many innovative practices," Secondary Education Chair Bruce Larson said in announcing that award.
He was a teacher’s teacher, recognized by students and colleagues as gifted in his ability to instill the passion for teaching. Keiper also loved the theater, directed numerous plays, loved to travel the world and loved people, often endearing himself to them.
The spring 2010 issue of Western's Window magazine featured Keiper's beloved "Dynamics of Teaching" class. The aim of the class was to help young teachers become more lively, engaging and effective in the classroom.
“Monotone is a killer in the classroom,” Keiper told the magazine. “Life dies out in some classrooms when it should grow and flourish. Research shows that teachers who are caring, outgoing, spontaneous and animated do better with adolescents.”
Keiper presented his "Teacher as Actor" workshops internationally. He was a beloved public speaker, as more than one former student and colleague have written on a special page set up for memories of Bob.
He is survived by his brother Don Keiper of Gibbon, his sister Shirley Skow of Grand Island, Neb., and four nieces and one nephew. He was also loved by an extensive “adopted” family, all of whom claimed him to be their “Uncle Bob.”
A memorial service will held at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, located at 2117 Walnut St. in Bellingham.
Keiper’s remains will be interred in the columbarium at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Denver, where he will again be with the love of his life, “Toots,” who preceded him in death.
In lieu of memoriam, Bob requests that donations be made to local community theaters or educational programs for underserved youth.
Bob was all about living, learning, laughing and loving!
[ Editor's note: Most of this article is from an obituary published in The Bellingham Herald on July 23, 2014. ]