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HILO, Hawaii – If Ron Keeler held up his pre-retirement and post-retirement lives in a mirror, the two would not even distantly resemble each other. This was Ron Keeler before he retired as president/CEO of Lockheed FCU in Burbank, Calif. – he lived about 12 miles from the credit union and drove about 30 minutes (depending on traffic) to his job. He typically got up at 6:45 am, arrived for work at Lockheed at around 8:30 and left for home at 6:30. Keeler also had to be in Washington, D.C. two out of every three months for a NAFCU Board meeting or a meeting of the executive committee since by the time he retired in 2000, he was also chairman of NAFCU. His stays in D.C. usually lasted two days each. So what’s Keeler’s life like these days? He splits it between his home in Las Vegas where he lives nine months out of the year and his home on nine acres of land in Hilo, Hawaii about half way up the active Mount Kilauea volcano. When he’s in Hawaii, Keeler “wakes up when I get up” which is usually between 7:30 and 9 am. After breakfast, he gets on his tractor and rides around his property, trimming palm trees and watching his coffee plants grow. Keeler has devoted one acre of his property to growing coffee. He’s raised two crops so far, and last year he even sold some at a local market. Is it any wonder that despite his lengthy credit union career and service to the NAFCU Board – before being named chairman, Keeler was first appointed to the board in 1991 to fill the unexpired term of John Stanton, retired president/CEO of Continental Airlines FCU. He subsequently was elected independently three times and served from 1991-2000 – that the 66 year old Keeler doesn’t miss working in the credit union world. “I love the people, but after 18 years as a CEO and being involved with Lockheed Corp. before as their corporate counsel, it was time to move on,” says Keeler. He also served on the Lockheed FCU Board from 1969-1982, when he was appointed president/CEO. “I saw Lockheed FCU grow from its infancy to almost being a billion dollar credit union. I knew I didn’t want to work clear to age 65, but it became obvious to me that I’d accomplished everything I’d wanted to. That’s when I turned the reins over to my successor Dave Styler,” says Keeler. Lockheed FCU currently has $1.9 billion in assets. In fact Keeler was 62 when he retired. His first wife Diana died two years before he retired. Keeler has been remarried for four years to Susan Linnemeyer who used to work at Lockheed FCU as head of lending. Between living in Las Vegas and Hawaii, Keeler has come a long way from Great Bend, Kansas where he grew up. He earned his B.A. from University of Kansas and his law degree from UCLA with a specialty in commercial law. When he needed a car for his first job, he joined a credit union and took out an auto loan. That was his introduction to the credit union world. Recalling his time spent on the NAFCU Board, Keeler remembers that shortly after he came on board, the environment for federal credit unions “began to worsen.” Norman D’Amours had been named NCUA Chairman, and “he never had a clue what federal credit unions were about,” says Keeler. Keeler says he was thrilled when he was named NAFCU chairman because “it meant I had fulfilled one of my lifetime dreams. It seemed like if you were a federal credit union, that’s where the action was.” He was especially excited over the prospect of dealing with congressmen and senators. “It was my first opportunity to deal in the political arena and meet with federal elected officials. It was one of the most exciting times of my life,” Keeler says, pausing to add, “But it was time to move on.” He concedes though that as difficult as it was to deal with the aftermath of the AT&T Family FCU suit filed by the American Bankers Association including the subsequent appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case, its eventual decision, and the successful push to pass the Credit Union Membership Access Act, “the whole situation appealed to the lawyer in me. You never really lose that,” says Keeler. The former president of Lockheed says he’s gone to a couple of the credit union’s annual meetings since he retired and keeps in touch with some credit union folks he knows. “But I’ve pretty much closed that chapter of my life,” Keeler says. “Susan and I like to travel and we get to do a lot of that.” Asked if he’d considered doing volunteer work for credit unions, Keeler said he’s not interested because, “I’d still have to make a commitment to that which would mean I’d only be able to travel and do other things I love part-time.” Since retiring, the Keelers have traveled to Australia, New Zealand, South America and Mexico. They plan to visit Ireland and the British Isles in September or October. With one of his daughters living next door to him in Hawaii, another daughter living about a mile from where he lives in Las Vegas, and his son living in California, and splitting his time with his wife Susan between their homes in Las Vegas and Hawaii, Keeler has no second thoughts that his decision to retire was the right one. “I was excited to work with credit unions, but this is my life now and it fits fine,” Keeler says. Friends of Keeler who would like to contact him can reach him at: skeeler1@ msn.com. -

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