Ronald W. Keezer, 80, passed away Sunday, June 14, 2020, at Dove Healthcare West in Eau Claire. Ron was born June 4, 1940, in Eau Claire, to Lorraine Brist and Norman Hall, and raised in Chippewa Falls by his mother and stepfather, Willard Keezer. After studies at Winona State University, Minn.; the Berklee College of Music, Boston, Mass.; and the Boston Conservatory, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire. After extensive study in composition at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, Ron completed his Master of Science in teaching degree on a graduate assistantship at UWEC.
In 1965, Ron married Mary A. Graham, a graduate of UWEC with a Master’s degree in music and a professional French horn player. Sadly, Mary passed away March 31, 2020.
Ron Keezer held the title of Associate Professor Emeritus of Music from UWEC. He taught percussion, and directed the percussion ensemble, marimba ensemble and Jazz Ensemble II at UWEC from 1969 until his retirement in 2001. In 1997 Ron formed Really Good Music, LLC, a publishing house that features composers of renown as well as younger composers who have shown great talent. Ron was also a skilled composer himself, with publications through Kendor and Really Good Music, and released an instructional video “Keezer on Drum Set” through the University of Wisconsin Press. He was a highly-sought-after conductor, clinician, and adjudicator throughout the Midwest, and an author of a wide variety of articles for various music periodicals. Ron made it his life’s mission to pass on his musical knowledge and humanity to his students, many who have gone on to teach or perform professionally in jazz, classical and Broadway.
Ron was a faculty member of the Shell Lake Arts Center from 1973-2007. This was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of his career. Shell Lake, Wis., became his summer home for the 35 years of his tenure at the Arts Center. The people of Shell Lake and his Arts Center colleagues are a part of his extended family.
Besides his musical focus, Ron was an avid reader and historian specializing in World War II, a topic of great interest to him as his stepdad Willard Keezer was a veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He also loved watching comedies and drama miniseries. Ron had a wonderful and offbeat sense of humor which could break the ice in any social situation. In his later years, Ron had an extensive email list to whom he sent his daily “Morning Missive,” which always began with a weather update, a history lesson (sometimes serious, sometimes absurd), then his unique brand of stream-of-consciousness jokes and shared cartoons.
Ron is survived by his son, Geoffrey Keezer; his daughter-in-law, Gillian Margot; grandchildren, Julianne, James, Cameron and Malcolm; siblings, Philip Keezer, Deanna Hall and Keith Reaves.
Memorials in Ronald Keezer’s name can be made to the Shell Lake Arts Center, P.O. Box 315, Shell Lake, Wis. 54871; and the Jack and Margaret O’Farrell Jazz Advancement Fund at the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, Box 4004, Eau Claire, Wis. 54702-4004.
A joint visitation and memorial for Ron and Mary will be held at a future date, when it is safe to gather at the level that will likely be required to honor the couple in an appropriate manner.
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