Thoughts of a dear, departed friend

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To the editor:

I need to say a few words about a great friend and companion, Bob Keller, who left us on July 3. It was my wonderful privilege to pack in, camp and fish with this amazing fellow on many occasions.

No one in Libby knows me, as I live in Wyoming. Mutual friends introduced me to his son Geoff, who persuaded me to come along on really unbelievable trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness, packing large rafts 22 miles into Salmon Meadows on the South Fork and then floating out. Bob outfitted and ramrodded the trips.

Some details fade in memory, but Geoff might have warned me that his father was a bit eccentric. Bob, a year older than my father, was not exactly a youngster, but his sense of humor was decades younger than his stated age. Several of his favorite jokes cannot be printed here.

The idea of taking 15 pack animals and 10-12 12 saddle horses 22 miles into the midst of grizzly into the country, dining like kings on steak and plenty of merlot, floating out in his giant 16-foot freight raft (which I always seemed to be appointed to row) — this could sound crazy. But Bob made every crazy idea seem normal.

Bob and I had many conversations about the law and justice. We shared a common view that justice should not turn on fancy concepts; there was always a basic, sound, fair way to decide things. I never saw him lose his temper, even when he forgot to bring the thwarts for the raft and we had to carve new ones from tree branches.

Bob was a tall, raw-boned guy with a strong sense of fairness and devoted love for his family. I have had many adventures around the world, but there was not one which was more enriching than these trips with Bob Keller and his family.

—R.T. Cox,

Gillette, Wyoming

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