`Jerry' Keil used skills honed in FBI career to prompte book

Girard "Jerry" Keil won awards as a special-agent supervisor in the FBI's Seattle office.

He taught marksmanship and defensive tactics and later did similar work for Paccar, setting up a security plan for the firm's offices nationwide.

It seemed like an about-face when he retired in 1982 to help his wife, Joan MacDonald Keil, republish her mother Betty MacDonald's "Nancy and Plum" book about a pair of orphaned sisters.

But the task drew on skills he sharpened in the FBI: talking to a variety of people and getting them to do the right thing.

Mr. Keil died Saturday (April 22) of cancer. He was 77.

"He was meticulous, and liked to talk and be in charge," said his son Timothy Keil of Whidbey Island. "He enjoyed that discipline. He kept busy promoting the books and took it upon himself to answer every letter from every kid who enjoyed the books."

First he became Joan MacDonald Keil's adviser as she and her sister, Anne Evans, lobbied publishers to reprint the out-of-print "Nancy and Plum." When publishers rejected the reissue, Mr. Keil and his wife, whom he wed 50 years ago, printed and distributed the book themselves.

Later they saw MacDonald's "The Egg and I" book reissued.

Born in Royal Oak, Mich., he graduated from high school in Decatur, Mich. He was class president and played basketball and tennis.

He also was class president at James Milligan University in Decatur, where he earned a degree in business administration before becoming a navigator in the Army Air Forces during World War II.

He became an FBI agent based in Seattle in 1947. He also helped found the Northwest Forum business club.

From 1978 to 1982 he directed security for Paccar.

He then became vice president of Joan Keil Enterprises, his wife's book-promotion firm.

One of his recent joys was sitting on a bench in Kirkland's Marina Park and chatting with people. His family will dedicate a new bench to him and to his daughter Rebecca Keil, who died in 1998.

Surviving besides his wife and son are children Toby Keil of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Heidi Richards of Bellevue; brothers Otto Keil of Pennsylvania and Edwin Keil of Spokane; and seven grandchildren.

Services will be at 5 p.m. Saturday at First Congregational Church, 752 108th Ave. N.E., Bellevue.

Remembrances may go to Evergreen Hospice and Health Care Foundation, 12910 Totem Lake Blvd. N.E., Suite 200, Kirkland, WA 98034.

Carole Beers' e-mail address is cbeers@seattletimes.com