Oscar A. Keller, Jr., 97, a native of North Carolina and resident of Sanford, died at his home Sunday morning, July 22, 2018. Mr. Keller, known throughout his life as “Oscar” was born on March 19th, 1921 in Aberdeen, North Carolina to the late O.A. Keller, Sr. and Mrs. Iva Oxford Keller. Oscar was the youngest of five children with brother Carey Keller and sisters Helen Thomas, Lois Hendricks and Grace Saunders. Oscar was preceded in death by all his siblings and his wife, partner, and best friend of 73 years, Elderlene Roseman Keller of Sanford.
Oscar is survived by his three children Judy Keller Normann; O.A. “Buddy” Keller, III and wife Linda; and Linda Keller Kelly, all of Sanford. He was blessed with a large family including nine grandchildren: Sherrill D. Normann, Jr. and wife, Jennifer; W. Kel Normann and wife, Parker; Mary Lynne Stephens and husband, Cliff; Kelly Keller Parascandola and husband, Steve; Scott Keller and wife, Tonya; Carter Keller and wife, Susan; Gina Bycura and husband, Darren; Jamie Kelly and wife, Christy; Elizabeth Kelly Smith and husband, Justin. Oscar was also blessed with 27 great-grandchildren including Jordan Normann Paderick (Murphy); Lexie Ann Stephens Brown (Grant); Mary Blair Stephens, Colbie Normann Stephens, McKeller Normann, Marleigh Normann, Ben Gregory, Brad Gregory, Ali Parascandola Koch (Adam), Nicholas Parascandola, Maddie Parascandola, Katie Keller, Michael Keller, Sophia Keller, Christian Keller, Will Keller, Hannah Keller, Sara Keller, Sloan Bycura, Keller Bycura, Lizzie Bycura, Bruce Kelly, Olivia Kelly, Waett Kelly, Alexandra Daly, Hudson Smith, Camden Smith, and lastly, two great-great grandchildren, Mary Charles Paderick and Parker Paderick.
Oscar graduated from Jonesboro High School and played all sports, but basketball was his love. He also played drums in the school band. Oscar was not able to attend a university without also working, so he decided to just go to work. He started his working career at Progressive Grocery store but also attended Sanford Business College to continue his education and is where he met Elderlene.
Oscar worked in various sales jobs including Bell Bakeries, Center Chemical Company, and owned and operated several restaurants and an FCX store on Chatham Street. Oscar and his son, Buddy, also owned a chain of convenience stores called Fast Lane, but his love and passion, which he found in the late 50’s, was the nursing and rest home business.
Oscar was a pioneer in the nursing home and retirement home industry and held license #01 for the NC Nursing Home Administrators until his death. He built, owned and operated Keller Nursing Home, Oakhaven Rest Home, Parkview Retirement Home and Parkview In-Home Aide Services. He and Elderlene’s passion was providing care for families in Lee County and other surrounding counties. They provided a family owned and operated environment to friends and made their transition to convalescent living easier and more welcoming. They gave the personal touch and relationship because they cared, and they were at their retirement homes every day.
Oscar loved his community and State of North Carolina and was committed to giving back to it and working hard to improve it. Oscar participated in many clubs and organizations including Sanford Jaycees, Sanford Elks and others but his greatest passion was his Masonic Lodge #172. He loved his lodge and what masonry stood for.
Oscar also served his community by serving on many boards and as chair of many of them including: Lee County Health Board, Lee County Environmental Board, Lee County Recreation Board, Lee County Jury Commission, The Bread Basket and Central Carolina Community College Foundation. He also wanted to serve his state and he served as Chairman of the N.C. Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators and was chair of the N.C. Health and Safety Board until finally retiring at age 95.
One of Oscar’s passions was community banks and he served on many local boards including the Carolina Bank, Mid-South Bank, Triangle Bank and was founder of Capital Bank, based in Raleigh.
Through Oscar’s tireless dedication to his community and state, he received many recognitions and awards. He was recognized in 2012 with the Sanford Herald Lifetime Achievement Award. He has several boardrooms across the county and state named after him. In 2015, he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest honor and recently received the highest Masonic award, The Joseph Montfort Medal. For Oscar’s ongoing commitment to his community, the city and county declared a Proclamation in 2015 for Oscar Keller Day. For his work for the State of North Carolina, the DOT honored him with a portion of the 421 Bypass in Lee County by naming it the Oscar Keller, Jr. Highway.
Oscar was proud of his community and when recognized for his works, all he could say was “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You”. He loved the community college system and supported Central Carolina Community College which bears his and Elderlene’s name on the Health Sciences building. He also loved Meredith College, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, Cameron Boys Home and many others that he supported graciously.
Oscar was the son of a Baptist minister, so he was also dedicated to his community churches, but most of his adult years were spent worshiping at Jonesboro Baptist, Cool Springs Baptist and First Baptist, where he served as a deacon for each.
His dedication to this community was based on his commitment in helping improve the lives of others and the overall standard of living in North Carolina. He leaves behind him a large family that is his legacy. His family was his greatest accomplishment and what he was most proud.
The family would like to thank his wonderful caregivers the last weeks – Lou Riggan, Brenda McLean, and Debbie Fore. They helped keep him comfortable at home until the end.
A Memorial Service will be held at St. Luke United Methodist Church at 2pm on Wednesday, July 25th, followed by visitation of family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to local charities or community organizations.