Obituary Listings

Dr. Elizabeth Simonson Updike Keeler

May 10, 1923 November 24, 2018
Dr. Elizabeth Simonson Updike Keeler
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Obituary for Dr. Elizabeth Simonson Updike Keeler

(Age 95)
Dr. Elizabeth J. Keeler passed away at Rockwood South Hill in Spokane following a series of strokes on November 24, 2018. She was born May 10, 1923 in Casper, WY to Selmer and Fae Simonson. Her childhood was marked by the Great Depression with its disruptions, business failures, and loss of employment, home and family. Following her parents’ divorce, Elizabeth and her two sisters lived with other relatives while their mother struggled to find work. While they stayed with family on Whidbey Island, one of the girls drowned.
Elizabeth met her first husband, James Updike while both studied at WSU and were married in Pullman in 1944. They moved to Lexington, KY where Jim attended seminary and she finished credits for her BA in 1946. Twenty-five years of marriage and service as a minister’s wife, mother, and school-teacher followed in California and Washington.
Following her divorce in 1970, Elizabeth changed occupations to social work and moved to Spokane. She met Arthur Keeler at the Unitarian Church and they married in 1974. A lifelong learner, she completed her MA in Child Development at WSU in 1969. Next she focused on social work, completing her MA in Applied Behavioral Science at Whitworth in 1975, and began work on the MSW in Social Work (1980) and MA in Public Administration (1981) at EWU. In 1987 she received her PhD in Educational Leadership from Gonzaga University. Her beloved husband Arthur passed away in 2012.
Upon retirement from her career in public and private social work, Elizabeth pursued genealogy, writing and travel. She blended her love of family history, writing and research into a book of stories, “My Voice”, which was published in 2016. She was known for her commitment to her family, friends and community, particularly those whom she served as a social worker, educator and social activist. She was recognized as the YWCA of Spokane’s Woman of Achievement in Community Service in 1997.
Dr. Keeler is survived by three children, Susan Ridley (Bruce), Mary Nielsen (Dave), David Updike (Michael Nelson); four grandchildren, Elisa Ridley Greene (Gregg), Katherine Ridley, Elizabeth Nielsen, Timothy Nielsen; two great grandchildren, Max and Sam Greene; and two nephews, Keith Grant (Amy), Tom Grant (Kathy).
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 11:00 am at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane (W. 4340 Fort Wright Drive) where she was a member for 44 years. Dr. Keeler served as a founding board member of H.O.M.E. (Helping Ourselves Means Education) and SPOC (Support for Parents Overcoming Challenges, and was active in the Esther Reed Chapter NSDAR, the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, Pioneer Circle of Spokane’s Women Helping Women, and the Spokane Alliance. Rather than flowers, the family requests memorials to EWU Foundation/H.O.M.E. (H.O.M.E. Program, Monroe 207, Cheney, WA 99004-2428).


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