H. Mason `Beebs' Keeler, 73, Was Outdoorsman And Philanthropist

He enjoyed his friends and he enjoyed his fishing, so it's no surprise that some of the most enjoyable times in H. Mason "Beebs" Keeler's life involved them both.

Mr. Keeler, a successful businessman, avid outdoorsman, devoted family man and generous philanthropist, died Saturday after a long battle with cancer. He was 73.

The former president of Overall Laundry Services, who retired in 1985, will be remembered for his more than $2 million in donations to the University of Washington, including an endowment for a professorship in sport-fisheries management.

His gifts to the university and to the state Department of Fisheries helped with a variety of programs to study, maintain and enhance sport fisheries in the state. In addition to his own contributions, he helped lead fund drives for the UW's School of Fisheries.

"I owe somebody something for all the pleasure I've had from the outdoors. I want to make sure there are fish for tomorrow," Mr. Keeler said upon receiving the UW Alumni Association's Recognition Award for 1991.

A fisherman since boyhood, Mr. Keeler especially enjoyed hosting friends at his salmon-fishing retreat at Big Bay on Stewart Island, British Columbia.

"He had a lot of friends, a good sense of humor and a willingness to help others," said Dick Izzard, retired Darigold Farms marketing director who grew up across the street from Mr. Keeler and was his classmate through grade school, high school and


Born in Seattle in 1918, Mr. Keeler graduated from Broadway High School in 1937 and received a bachelor's degree in economics from the UW in 1941. He attended Harvard Business School and joined the Navy during World War II, becoming a lieutenant in a naval ordnance unit.

As a young man, Mr. Keeler joined Overall Laundry Services, the business his father had started in 1920. H. Mason Keeler became company president and part owner.

Ralph Davis, retired chief executive officer of Puget Sound Power & Light, was one of Mr. Keeler's fishing companion and remembers the joy Mr. Keeler took in the outdoors.

"He was a careful and conscientious fisherman and would release a lot of fish," Davis recalled. "And he had a famous saying, `You don't have to catch fish to enjoy fishing.' "

Photography was another hobby of Mr. Keeler, who took special pride in the pictures of eagles he took at his B.C. fishing spot.

Mr. Keeler was active in the Boy Scouts of America, and was a member of the Nile Temple of the Shrine, the Rainier Club and Broadmoor Golf Club. He was a past member of Seattle Rotary and a past president of the Pacific Northwest Laundry Association.

A lifelong resident of the Seattle area, Mr. Keeler most recently lived in Bellevue with his wife, Inger. Other survivors include daughters Ann Keeler and Kristin Keeler Drake and stepson Jeff Eagan, all of Seattle; brother Travis Keeler of Mercer Island; and stepmother Alice Lee Keeler of Seattle.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Broadmoor Golf Club. Remembrances may be made to the Virginia Mason Foundation, Box 1930, Seattle, 98111; Camp Goodtimes (a retreat for children with cancer), 2120 First Ave. N., Seattle, 98109, or the Wildcat Steelhead Club, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284.