Margaret Teresa Conway Keeler, a former parochial school teacher whose five children include Baltimore's Cardinal William H. Keeler, died Friday of congestive heart failure at St. Martin's Home in Catonsville. She was 94.
The daughter of an Illinois farmer, Mrs. Keeler was a deeply spiritual woman with a keen sense of humor who loved to say the rosary and to talk about her family, including her son, who was named archbishop of Baltimore by Pope John Paul II in 1989 and elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1994.
"All of us children are in enormous debt to our mother for her example and her prayers, and for her concern for us," Cardinal Keeler said yesterday.
Mrs. Keeler was born Oct. 17, 1902, in Perryton Township, Ill., the fifth of nine children of Patrick Joseph Conway and Julia Agnes Kennedy Conway. She graduated from Villa de Chantal High School in Rock Island and attended Illinois State Normal University in Bloomington.
In 1930, she married Thomas Love Keeler, a steel-casting salesman. They lived for a time in San Antonio, where Cardinal Keeler was born.
Her teaching career began in 1923, in a one-room country schoolhouse in Illinois. She went on to teach elementary school in Springfield, Ill., and later in Maryland at the parochial schools of St. John Baptist de la Salle in Chillum and Our Lady of Sorrows in Takoma Park.
She was a longtime member of Annunciation parish in Northwest Washington, where she had been vice president of the Leisure Club.
Mrs. Keeler lived for the past four years at St. Martin's, a nursing home operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor. She was remembered there as a graceful woman with expressive blue eyes who enjoyed visitors and liked to play solitaire, watch Catholic cable television and listen to soft classical music during meals.
"She used to tell me stories about her family," said Sister Celestine Meade, who cared for Mrs. Keeler there for more than a year. "She was so proud of her children."
When she spoke with her son, Mrs. Keeler would smile and tell Sister Celestine that she had heard from "Father Bill," or "the cardinal."
"She was just such an enjoyable lady," Sister Celestine said. "She was a very positive person. She saw the good in everyone."
Mrs. Keeler, whose husband died in 1963, is also survived by her other four children, Virginia M. Keeler and Thomas Keeler of Washington, and Julia Keeler Graham and Helen Keeler-Lavin, both of Toronto; a brother, Vincent Conway of Aledo, Ill.; and two grandchildren.
Visiting hours were planned for 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at St. Martin's, 601 Maiden Choice Lane, where a Mass will be offered at 5 p.m.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated by Cardinal Keeler at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, U.S. 40 and St. Agnes Lane.
Pub Date: 7/20/97