Keith Allen Spindler age 87 passed away on Saturday August 1, 2020 at his home on Lake Bemidji surrounded by his family. Unknowingly battling multiple conditions including lung cancer for months, he succumbed to the disease three weeks after his diagnosis. He was laid to rest in a private ceremony with military honors on August 4, 2020 at Greenwood Cemetery in Bemidji.
Born in Superior, Wisc. on Sept. 24, 1932, his family of seven moved to Bemidji a few years later. Despite leaving the area after graduating from Bemidji H.S. in 1950, he considered Bemidji to be his home, returning following his service in the Air Force during the Korean War and then after graduating from Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. In the summer of 1967, he purchased a cabin on Lake Bemidji and returned every summer until his retirement from teaching in 1990 when he was able to make Bemidji his permanent residence once again. He began his career at the Gonvick-Clearbrook High School and then Thief River Falls High School teaching English. Then after earning a Master’s degree from St. Louis University, he spent 23 years teaching U.S. History at Belleville Township High School East in Belleville, IL.
Keith will be best remembered for his devotion to golf. Throughout his life, golf was core to his being. He began caddying at Bemidji Town & Country Club (BT&CC) when he was 14 – walking from town to the course each day. His work ethic and interest in game was recognized by Grand Forks, ND banker Joseph Bridston and he gave Keith his first set of clubs. As he grew, Keith molded his life around golf; the sport provided him not only with the opportunities to earn money, go to college and form friendships but it also nourished his soul. Throughout his life, he paid forward the generosity he received and made it a point to mentor younger players.
A fixture at BT&CC over the years, Keith revered the game. A disciple of the legendary golfer Ben Hogan, he was constantly working on his game and still shooting in the 80s until last summer. A fierce competitor, Keith was most proud of his 1963 Founder’s Day (now Vandersluis) victory at the BT&CC where he shot 72-70-69. Winning by a five-shot margin, he set an “all-time record score” of 211 that stood until the course was changed. He also cherished the times he played at Augusta National Golf Course with his long-time foursome partner Paul Bridston (Joseph’s son).
A chance encounter at BT&CC led to a long-distance courtship and his marriage to Martha Douglass in 1962 at Norwood Hills Country Club in St. Louis, MO. Even though she didn’t play golf, Martha remained his constant companion. They enjoyed their Sunday drives together.
In later years, Keith became a creature of habit and would make routine trips to check in on his friends around town. One of his daily routines would be to walk down his road to check on things and talk to his neighbors. And when he couldn’t make the walk anymore, he drove his car – to make sure everything and everyone was fine.
He is survived by his loving wife of 58 years Martha; daughters Evonne Spindler (Aeron) of Bemidji and Eva Keiser (Jack) of Minneapolis; grandsons Douglass and James Keiser; brothers Bud (Polly) of Torrance, CA and Ray (Elaine) of Green Valley, AZ.; as well as numerous nieces and nephews including Steve Spindler (Linda) of Bemidji. Keith was proceeded in death by parents George & Bertha; sister Patricia Harvey and brother Theodore (Ted).
“As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round” – Ben Hogan
In lieu of flowers, please donate to either the PGA’s First Tee organization (firsttee.org/) or the Disabled American Veterans (dav.org).
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