Former long-time faculty member of The Gilbert School, Edward F. Keeley, passed away on February 24, 2021. Mr. Keeley directed The Gilbert School band program as instrumental teacher and conductor of bands from 1964 – 1988. Mr. Keeley organized the Laurel City Summer Band with concerts in the park, created The Gilbert School Summer Music Program for students, and conducted The Pleasant Valley Players musical theater orchestra for many years.
Mr. Keeley contributed much to the growth of generations of students. With his ability to motivate and inspire he impacted many lives as a musician and educator. He leaves a lasting legacy at The Gilbert School.
Mr. Keeley’s retirement from Gilbert allowed him to pursue his many and varied interests in cooking, gardening, travel, and golf, and to enjoy UCONN Women’s Basketball, Hartford Symphony concerts and his greatest passion – his family.
After his passing, many of Mr. Keeley’s former students and former colleagues expressed their thoughts on what a caring, inspirational, and talented teacher he was, as well as a vivacious, humorous, warm and generous man.
This is awful news, but somehow appropriate that he be remembered during the month where we celebrate music education. Ed was a force of nature, and his students thought so highly of him. There are stories of him needing a tuba player and walking down to the cafe during lunch and finding the tallest student he could find and saying, "Hello, I would like you to play tuba in the band". The student didn't know what to do, so he just agreed! Ed will be sorely missed but his impact on music and Gilbert certainly lives on. – Scott Minnerly, Band Director, Music Teacher - The Gilbert School
Just got the news that my amazing high school band director, Edward Keeley, passed away a few days ago. To know The Gilbert School in the 60’s, 70’s and ‘80’s was to know Mr. Keeley. I always marveled at the fact that in a school of less than 500 students, over 100 found their way to first period lunch and then band. My first trips to Florida, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston were because of this man and his wonderful wife. And for four years of band practice, private practice, concerts, parades, and sporting events, we got zero credit on our report cards, but what we received in personal growth was immeasurable. Thank you, Mr. Keeley from the bottom of my heart. May you rest peacefully and bring your beautiful music to the heavens and beyond. – Paul Gallo, 1985
The world has become decidedly less exceptional. Mr. Edward Keeley directed the Gilbert School Jazz Band, Concert Band, and Marching Band, all of which I was a part. He challenged us with the most remarkable arrangements; let me tell you, UCONN Concert Band was dim compared to the light we lit! We played those challenging arrangements and we played them well because of Mr. Keeley! Exchange concerts were creative and fun. Summer band brightened Wednesday evenings in the park. Being part of band got me through high school. I loved every minute. Thank you, Mr. Keeley! --Jane Stoltze Loftus, 1982
I’ve dreaded this day for so long …. What a blessing it was to have been able to connect and converse with Mr. Keeley on Facebook. He was my mentor throughout High School, and taught me to excel, achieve, and triumph. (E.A.T.) I love him for everything he stood for and a good part of him will always move forward with me through life, giving back to the ones I teach. My condolences to your whole family and to us, The gilbert School Family, Thank you Ed. – Joseph Smith, 1987
He was an inspiration and mentor to so many over his decades of wondrous achievement at Gilbert. Parents and students all adored his good nature and humor. He took what Ma Sonier and others who were involved in the music program at Gilbert started to an extraordinary level. RIP my friend – Jim Cormier, 1984
When I first saw him on Facebook a few year ago, he asked how my trumpet was . . . I was amazed that he would remember me and what I played. He had a good mix of pushing you to do better, praising you when you did well, being serious when he needed to and letting off some steam when he needed to also. My band time was among my favorite time in high school – Ron Mele, 1978
Mr. Keeley taught us more than the love and appreciation of music. He gave us a safe place to be different and to see parts of our world some of us would never have had the chance to see. More than anything for me, he taught respect -- for him, for others, and for myself. To see the gifts of others and to show us what could be achieved through hard work and dedication. -- Joyce Ann Gallo, 1987
Losing a beloved teacher is tough, but this is especially tough because Mr. Keeley affected all of us, even those not in band. He set the standard for the music department and encouraged everyone to rise to it and give their best. Oh yes, and learn from his example. -- Lynn Schnier, 1975
A music department memorial find has been set up by the W. L. Gilbert Trust in Mr. Keeley’s memory. Anyone wishing to make a donation may send a check to the W. L. Gilbert Trust Corporation, with the memo line marked Edward Keeley Memorial Fund, and mail to The Gilbert School, 200 Williams Avenue, Winsted, CT 06098. Donations may also be made via The Gilbert School website by clicking on the link and listing the Edward Keeley Memorial Fund in the special instructions.
All donations will benefit The Gilbert School Music Department.