WØAKL - June 25, 1999

Aubrey E. Keel
Kansas City, MO
Born July, 3, 1901
QCWA # 18770
OOTC # 3128

AUBREY KEEL, 97, retired AP telegrapher, died June 25, 1999 in Kansas City, Mo. AP employed 1,500 telegraphers over a span of eight decades and Keel was one of three still living. He was hired by the AP in 1926 in Lubbock, Texas. A 16-year AP veteran telegrapher, Keel first learned Morse Code in 1917 in his hometown of Goldthwaite, Texas. As a telegrapher, he translated words into dots and dashes and transmitted them to another telegrapher on the other end of the wire, who translated the dots and dashes into words.

When the Texas AP phased in the Teletype printer in 1928, Keel adapted to the new technology. He eventually became communications chief in Milwaukee, Des Moines and Los Angeles before retiring in 1966. He continued to communicate with dots and dashes with retired telegraphers of his ham radio group, the Queen Bee Net.

He also was up on the latest technology, working out of a home command center consisting of two computers, radio gear, a digital camera, a scanner and an antique telegraph key and sounder fitted with a Prince Albert tobacco can to alter the telegraph's pitch. Last year President Lou Boccardi honored Keel at AP's 150th-anniversary exhibit opening at the Newseum in Arlington, Va. Keel demonstrated the telegraph there. He went on to repeat his Morse Code demonstrations at other AP 150th anniversary celebrations throughout the year. Keel, who suffered from lymphoma, was cremated June 26. Survivors include a daughter, a son-in-law, and granddaughter, and several nieces and nephews.

(from: http://www.rkeibler.com/retirees/archive/obits/)

Aubrey E. Keel, one of three surviving Associated Press telegraphers and one of America's oldest World War II veterans, died Friday, June 25, 1999 in Kansas City, Missouri. He would have been 98 on July 3rd.

Cremation is scheduled with a memorial service to follow July 11 at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Lees Summit, a Kansas City suburb. He is survived by a daughter Mari McElyea and a grand daughter, Tara McElyea 13, of Kansas City. His wife Alcia to whom he was married 44 years died in 1994.

Keel was born July 3, 1901 at Indian Gap Texas but his family soon moved to Goldthwaite. It was at Goldthwaite where at age 17, he learned telegraphy at the Santa Fe Railroad station to help relieve a World War I shortage of operators. He worked for the railroad eight years, and then was hired by the AP in 1926 to copy the news at several Texas newspapers. Greater skill as a telegrapher was required to hold down an AP job than was necessary on railroads.

(This is a much shortened version of his Obit that appeared in the Goldthwaite Eagle. Full copy contains many highlights of his life with AP and afterwards. His full obit will be in the Obit book later this year at the Clerks office in the Mills County Courthouse. SR)

[The following is a short AUTObiography from Mr. Keel who lived in Kansas, MO. until his death in June of 1999.
Mr. Keel submitted this short autobiogrlaphy in 1997.-- ray weathers]
Now 96 yrs old. Born July 3, 1901 at Indian Gap, Texas, Hamilton County.

Moved to Goldthwaite, Texas around 1903 where my father ran a grocery store. Attended public schools at Golthwaite.

During WW1 there was shortage of telegraph operators so I learned to telegraph at the old Santa Fe RR freight depot in Goldthwaite. Took telegraph operator job at that place, later moving to Temple Santa Fe Telegraph Relay Office.

In 1926, having become a proficient operator I signed on with the Associated Press and was employed in transmitting and receiving news reports via the telegraph which was the only means of sending messages long distances at a fast speed.

Around 1933 The AP discontinued the telegraph in favor of the Teletype automatic printers. I stayed with the AP as a Teletype maintenance man. In 1935 the AP started transmitting pictures via telephone lines and I became a Wirephoto technician, advancing in 1936 to national supervisor in New York City, a position I held until WWII when I entered the military service. I was stationed at the Fort Worth Army Flying Field (now Carswell) until I was discharged.

Returning to the AP at the end of the War I became AP Chief of Communications at Des Moines, then at Los Angles and finally at Milwaukee. I retired in 1966 after the final 25 years in Administrative work for the AP.

My wife, Alcia also was employed by the AP and since she was ten years my junior she continued after my retirement. Her job took her to Kansas City in 1972 . She passed away in 1994 and I remained in Kansas City.

I have one daughter Mari, and one granddaughter Tara Lynn McElyea, living next door to me. Both of us are on adjoining acreages.I am still quite active and able to take care of my acreage and home.

In 1948 I became an amateur radio operator better known as ham operators. My present ham radio call is W0AKL. (That's a zero in between the W and the A.)

Altho somewhat at novice, I own and use two computers, mostly for E-mail and word processing. I have a flatbed scanner and a digital camera, etc.

Recently the AP flew me and my galfriend to Washington where I put on a Morse telegraph demonstration at the 150th anniversary celebration of the Associated Press. Altho the telegraph is outmoded (long ago) there still is some interest in it and I have put on numerous demonstrations.