Herman Joseph Keillor, M.D., of Harlingen, Texas went home to be with our Lord and Savior on October 31, 2019. Herman was born on May 16, 1943 in Berwyn, Illinois to Ormal Alfred Keillor and Georgiana Louise Keillor and was the second oldest of five children. He moved with his family down to the Rio Grande Valley in 1957 to Bayview; and Herman graduated in 1961 as Salutatorian from Los Fresnos High School. While in high school, Herman’s love of football was ignited under the leadership of coach John Linville and his beloved coach & lifelong friend, Buford Wyatt. Under their direction, Herman played fullback position and was Varsity Captain for the Los Fresnos Fighting Falcons football team. Herman also greatly enjoyed participating in Future Farmers of America. He raised several prize-winning Hampshire hogs under the mentorship of his lifelong friend and teacher, Mac Miller. Herman used his prize money to purchase his own school clothes every year; and even earned enough points to receive the highly coveted “Lone Star Farmer’s Degree” (the highest honor one can receive from FFA).
After high school, Herman met Judith Ann “Judy” Rinewalt on the steps of the Chemistry building on their very first day of freshman classes at Baylor University in the fall of 1961. They wed on August 28, 1965, the day after their college graduation, where Herman received his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Biology. The following week after a quick honeymoon and move up to Dallas, Herman began his studies at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and he graduated in 1969. The couple then moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where Herman completed his rotating internship year at St. John’s Hospital. They next moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where Herman completed his residency in General Orthopedic Surgery at Baroness Erlanger Hospital; and where their first daughter, Amy Elizabeth, was born. He also served as a Captain in the United States Army Reserve from 1971 to 1977.
After the completion of his residency, the now trio, decided to return to Herman’s Valley roots and moved to Harlingen in 1974. Herman began his private General Orthopedic Surgery practice and completed the first ever Total Knee surgery in Harlingen. He became Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery in 1977; and built Harlingen Bone & Joint Clinic in 1979, continuing the practice in its same original building until his death. He also served as Director of the Valley Baptist Medical Center Emergency Department Poison Control, and Chairman of the Emergency Room Medical Advisory Committee from 1980 to 1988. It was also during this time that they welcomed their second daughter, Rebecca Leeann.
Throughout his forty-five years of practice, Herman never stopped learning and contributing to his field. He had a charming bedside manner; and always took his time with every one of his thousands of patients. He had an affinity for teaching; and especially loved being a Preceptor in Orthopedic Surgery for the Physician’s Assistant Program at the University of Texas Pan American/UTRGV. His dedication and popularity amongst his students resulted in him earning the “Orthopedic Preceptor of the Year” Award.
Herman was a pillar of the community and involved in numerous civic, school & church affairs for many years. He was a member of: Calvary Baptist Church and its Stewardship Committee, the City of Harlingen Chamber of Commerce, and the STEC (EMS) Medical Advisory Committee.
Being a former football player, Herman always had a passion for the sport and wanted to increase the level of care & safety for the players. As such, he volunteered his time to be on the sidelines in case of injury, and was the team doctor for the Harlingen Cardinal, Harlingen Hawk, Los Fresnos Falcon, La Feria Lion, San Benito Greyhound, Santa Rosa Mighty Warrior, Raymondville Bearkat, and Weslaco Panther football teams.
Although he loved supporting all of the Valley towns, his loyalty remained with his beloved Harlingen. He was a fixture on the sidelines at Boggus Stadium on Friday nights since 1976, and rarely missed a game. His “super fandom” was so intense that he even converted three of his cars to be the “Cardinal Staff Car,” “The Cardinal Carriage,” and “The Hawkmobile” with elaborate custom paintjobs & neon ground effects; and he oftentimes would park those cars right underneath the scoreboard to intimidate visiting teams.
Being a former athlete himself, however, Herman was also very supportive of ALL area youth sports and athletes. This included sponsoring the “Dr. Keillor Classic” statewide basketball tournament for 30 years, which unofficially tipped off the basketball season every November during the Thanksgiving holiday; and in the hundreds of booster posters he proudly displayed in his office to create his “Wall of Honor.” It was because of his many acts of service to sports that he earned the “Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame Distinguished Service” Award, the “Robert Reece Memorial Super Fan” Award (Harlingen High School), the “City of Palms RGV Football Clinic Hall of Honor” Award, and the “Super Cardinal Hall of Fame" Award.
When he wasn’t working or volunteering his time, Herman had several interests. Born with a green thumb, Herman was an avid gardener and enjoyed growing plants of all varieties. He especially loved his vegetable garden and harvesting his crop to enjoy at the family dinner table. He enjoyed having his extended family and employees over to swim in the pool and eat his many creations. He also loved American History, with his favorite subjects being Alexander Hamilton and John Adams.
Although his work schedule often didn’t allow it, he also loved to travel with his family. Amongst his favorite trips were the Annual Doctor Beach Camping Trip at the Port Mansfield Cut, the Mayan Dude Ranch in Bandera, Texas, cruising to Alaska and going whitewater rafting, bus tour through Scotland to research the Keillor heritage, cruising to the Bahamas with his ENTIRE family as a 50th Wedding Anniversary gift from his daughters, and most recently, going to Ruidoso, New Mexico in March with the entire clan again to learn more about the origins of “Smokey the Bear” and “Billy the Kid.” He said it was the “most fun he had in his entire life.”
Herman was perhaps best known for his HUGE LOVE of trains! To say he was a model train enthusiast would be the understatement of the century…a passion that began after he received his very first Lionel train. A gift promised to him as a reward for enduring 3 days of intensive and painful, old-fashioned allergy testing. He attended countless train shows over the years and best loved sharing his interest with his grandson, Ryan. He was also fortunate to share his love of trains with one of his best friends, Dr. Don Lee. A reminder of his hobby remains visible on the kitchen table today, where he accidentally spilled super glue while putting together a model with his niece, Mona. His normally jovial wife had quite the “colorful” reaction, which her daughters love to laughingly remind her of to this day.
A caring doctor, husband, father, father-in-law, papa, brother, cousin, uncle, and dear friend to so many, he will be greatly missed.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Ormal Alfred and Georgiana Louise Keillor; his sister, Mary Lou Keillor Bannert; and countless pets. He is survived by his loving wife, Judy, of 54 years; daughters, Amy Elizabeth Keillor of Austin, Texas, and Rebecca “Becky” Leeann Grohmann (son-in-law, Andrew) of Cypress, Texas; and grandchildren, Elizabeth Julia Grohmann, Ryan Andrew Grohmann, Josephine Lilly Grohmann, and a player to be named later of Cypress, Texas. Other survivors include his sister, Judy Mae Keillor Powell of Los Fresnos, Texas; his brother, James Allen Keillor (wife, Joyce) of Los Fresnos, Texas; and sister, Bonnie Keillor Slaten (husband, Steve) of Fort Collins, Colorado; as well as numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and his beloved dogs, Shania and Lionel Twain.
Visitation will be held at Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home, 710 Ed Carey Drive, Harlingen, Texas 78550 on Friday, November 8, 2019 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Following a private burial service, a Memorial and Celebration of Life service, led by Pastor Dr. Bill Perkins, will be held at Calvary Baptist Church, 1815 North 7th Street, Harlingen, Texas 78550 on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 11:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Calvary Christian School.
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