Hershey Bears Mourn the Loss of Hall of Fame Member and Former Bear’s Captain Ralph Keller

Ralph Keller
Images: Hershey Bears

Earlier today, the Hershey Bears shared a press release announcing the passing of Hershey Bear legend, Ralph Keller. Ralph was a Bear defensemen, a captain, Calder Cup champion, and Hall of Fame Member. Ralph Keller was 82 years old. Here is the press release in its entirety:

(Hershey, PA- March 8, 2018)The Hershey Bears are saddened to learn of the passing of Ralph Keller, a former defender, captain, Calder Cup champion, and Hall of Fame member. Keller was 82.

“Today is a sad day for the Hershey Bears organization with the passing of Ralph Keller,” said Vice President of Hockey Operations, Bryan Helmer. “Ralph was one of the all-time greats to wear the Chocolate and White. He was part of our family, and he will be dearly missed. The entire organization offers our condolences to Ralph’s family and friends at this difficult time.”  

 Keller played for the Bears from 1963-74 and ranks first in club history for points by a defenseman (408) and games played by a defenseman (737). The native of Wilkie, Saskatchewan held the AHL record for goals scored by a defenseman (111) at the time of his retirement. Keller was named a first-team AHL All-Star in 1968-69 and captained the 1973-74 Calder Cup championship team.

Keller’s number three is retired by the Bears. He was inducted into the Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of the inaugural class, and he was inducted in the AHL Hall of Fame in 2016.

The Bears will hold a moment of recognition for Keller prior to puck drop on Sunday, Mar. 11 as the club hosts the Grand Rapids Griffins at Giant Center at 5 p.m. 

Hershey Bears Cup

Some of you may recall that NoVa Caps had the opportunity to meet with Ralph’s son Chef Duane Keller in June, 2016. It was our intent to interview Chef Duane and to capture and share his story…but when we met with Duane, he just couldn’t stop talking about his Dad.

And Duane was so very passionate in his storytelling about his Dad and in sharing old stories about growing up in Hershey, Pennsylvania and attending games in the “Barn” as he called it. There was a sparkle in his eye and there was a softness in his voice when he spoke of his Dad. It’s was captivating and I just sat back and listened as Duane shared childhood memories about such a very special relationship between a Father and his son.

During our interview, Duane said: “It Isn’t What You Leave Your Children, But How Your Leave Them.” — This was a quote by Milton Hershey that so deeply resonated with Duane. He told me then just how much his Dad meant to him. It was such a pivotal part of our interview, and I used that quote as the title for the article.

Earlier this morning, Duane sent me a note to let me know that his Father had passed. I immediately thought of the quote and while I am so very sad for Duane and his family, thinking of the quote gave me comfort and I hope it gives Duane a little bit of comfort, too.

We wanted to share our article with our NoVa Caps followers again today; if you didn’t have a the opportunity to read it when it was originally posted, you may enjoy reading it now. You can read it in it’s entirety via his link: “It Isn’t What You Leave Your Children, But How You Leave Them.” Milton Hershey.

Chef Duane Keller

Chef Keller is the Executive Chef at Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria, Virginia. He’s a great friend to NoVa Caps, and a huge supporter of Caps Nation and of course, the Hershey Bears! 

Chef Duane, please know that our thoughts and our prayers are with you and your family during this very sad time.

By: Beckie Reilly

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