Obituary: Mildred Marie Keller Longaker
September 14, 2012
Mildred Marie Keller Longaker, (Toots; Millie; Yogi, Little Bear) passed away quietly surrounded by her family on May 25, 2012 in Dayton, Nevada, she was 91 years old. She was born in Fort Lyon, Colorado on April 19, 1921 to Edd Newton Keller and Carrie Mae Miller Keller. She married Dwight Garner Longaker on April 13, 1941 and they were happily married for 60 years until his death.
She lived many places throughout the United States, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, California and Nevada. She and her husband raised 5 children, Katherine (deceased) Gary, David, Carrie and Pam.
She loved sports, and played all sports long before it was popular for women to do so. She was a catcher for her brothers while they practiced their pitching. As she was raising her own children in practicing this tradition, she was nicknamed Yogi. She played football, tennis, and loved swimming. She and her husband, Dwight, also enjoyed square dancing and were master level Bridge players.
In addition to her role as the mother of five, Mildred achieved success in several fields of employment outside the home. She and Dwight met at a nursing school in Colorado from which they both graduated with honors. During World War II she worked at Douglas Aircraft as a “Rosie the Riveter”. She was a top sales person at very exclusive clothing stores.
She worked at Jamestown Festival Park as a guide during its heyday and was part of the retinue that received Queen Elizabeth II for the park’s 350th anniversary celebration in 1957. Jamestown selected her to greet the queen and guide her through both the old world and new world pavilions. She was employed by Dow Chemical when her family moved to Illinois, and when they moved to Iowa she worked as a civil servant, at the Rock Island Arsenal from where she retired.
Millie stressed to all of her children that no matter what their profession, work, their job, any task, they might do, they should strive to be the best. Her favorite quote was “I don’t care what you do for a living, but whatever you do – you do it to the best of your ability. If you are a ditch digger, be the best damn ditch digger there is.”
When their first born child, Katherine, was diagnosed with severe developmental disabilities in the mid 1940’s, Mildred and her husband, Dwight, went against the conventional wisdom of the day, eschewed institutional care, and raised her at home where she became a fully functioning member of the family.
Mildred and her husband Dwight were also staunch advocates of school integration in Virginia before the concept was widely embraced, at one point bringing a PTA meeting to a stony silence by suggesting that the schools in their district could realize significant budgetary savings by eliminating separate bus routes for African American students.
She had five children – Katherine (Kitty Lou) now deceased; two sons, Gary and David; and two daughters, Carrie and Pamela. For the final month of her life, Millie was in the loving care of her daughter-in-law, Lastenia and her son Gary.
She passed from this world surrounded by her two daughters, Carrie and Pamela and her son Gary. Millie is survived by her four remaining children and their spouses, Gary and Lastenia Longaker; David and Cheri Longaker; Carrie and Jim Galloway; and Pamela and George Hostert; 14 grand children; and 15 great-grandchildren. All who knew her will miss her, but we are at peace because her physical suffering is over.
Those wishing to honor her life and passing please make a donation to; Opportunity Village P.O. Box 622 Clear Lake, IA 50428