Vale couple are ‘shining stars’

The Enterprise/John L. Braese

For Dwight and Karlene Keller, donating their time to the community is the right thing to do. Honored as Chamber Volunteers of the Year, they were helping last week at the Vale Fire and Ambulance Crab Feed.

If one attends a community event in Vale, expect Dwight or Karlene Keller and probably both to be there.

“Dwight and Karlene are true shining stars in our community,” said Jennifer Tolman, the Vale resident who nominated the Kellers as Volunteers of the Year.

The couple received the honor at the recent Vale Chamber of Commerce banquet.

“You may not find another couple who care as much about Vale as these two do,” wrote Tolman. “It is hard to list all the great things the Kellers do for this community.”

Starting off with the first day of each year, the Kellers are present.

The couple help organize the community’s fireworks display for New Year’s Eve. The Kellers can be found up on the hill days before the event in the snow, setting up the display. Many times spending the night with the explosives, the Kellers are also present long after the skies have been filled and the local spectators are in bed. Everything set up for the display needs to be dismantled and hauled off the hill.

The Kellers are also involved in the Vale Lions Club and have dedicated hundreds of hours over the years to numerous Lions activities.

The Kellers can also be found organizing, assisting and attending Vale chamber activities as the couple has for a number of years.

“Dwight and Karlene are keystone members to this community and selflessly give their time to Vale and to promote business here locally,” said Jessica Hale, until recently the chamber executive director. “Vale is better because of their help and determination to make it so.”

All these hours of dedication are intertwined with both working full time.

Dwight, a hay farmer, can be found bailing late into the summer nights while Karlene keeps students fed well with her position in the elementary school’s cafeteria.

Helping out has always been the mantra in the Keller household, according to Luke Keller, the eldest of the children.

“Ever since I can remember, mom and dad were involved in community stuff,” said Keller. “When we had the shop, that kept dad pretty busy. Mom was a 4H leader for years and coached soccer for all of us.”

In addition to Luke, the Kellers raised two other children, Logan and Leighton.

“We were all involved in the Vale Fire Department and it was dad and mom that were first involved in the annual steak and crab feed,” said Luke.

Although recognized this year by the community, the Kellers have always been looked up to by their children.

“Both of them are just working, crazy parents and always have been,” he said. “I am so proud of them. They both always have time for other people.”

“I can think of so many people in this community deserving of this award,” said Karlene. “We are humbled to be chosen.”

“We have just always done what we saw needed to be done,” Dwight said.

Have a news tip? Email new@malheurenterprise or call John L. Braese at 541-473-3377.