John Keeley pictured in 2001 dressed up riding a gorilla at Vernon Secondary School. (VSS yearbook photo)

John Keeley pictured in 2001 dressed up riding a gorilla at Vernon Secondary School. (VSS yearbook photo)

COLUMN: Vernon teacher touched thousands of lives

AT RANDOM: Vernon school teacher taken too soon

As a young impressionable teenager, our years in high school leave a lasting memory.

While our circle of friends play a large role in that, it is the teachers that help shape you that make the biggest impact.

Whether it was a coach who helped you excel in your game or a math teacher who made sense out of often-mind numbing numbers.

John Keeley was that teacher.

For the students who were lucky enough to learn from him, their lives were touched by his caring nature. His everlasting smile burned in their memories. His often goofy and quirky humour a memory to smile back at.

Sadly, the world has lost a great teacher in Keeley.

Just 58 years old, Keeley was taken too soon from this world on July 18.

And of course, Keeley was more than just a teacher. He was a loving husband of 32 years, a father to two, brother, son, uncle and friend.

We offer our deepest condolences to all those mourning the loss of this great man.

While teaching was evidently a great passion and skill of Keeley’s, it was not his first career.

As a young man, Keeley started out as a journeyman welder.

But teaching called to him, and in 1987 he earned a Bachelor of Education from the University of Calgary.

With a keen knowledge and knack for numbers, math is where he started — teaching in Alberta for several years before settling in Vernon with his wife and starting a family.

Keeley taught with Vernon School District for 28 years. One can’t even imagine the number of students he helped grow and succeed in that many years in math and calculus.

But the classroom wasn’t the only place he taught. Keeley was also a staple on the basketball courts, coaching numerous teams.

Over his years in the school halls and gyms of Vernon Secondary and Charles Bloom (in Lumby), Keeley grew an extended family of students and colleagues.

Keeley loved to teach. But he also loved the outdoors.

Scaling rocks (in both summer and winter), casting a line into the water (or ice), taking aim at wildlife and targets, paddling local lakes and creeks were also a passion of Keeley’s.

Nature called to him and he loved its bounty. Therefore it is almost fitting that this man’s final breath was taken in the great outdoors.

Keeley was also a star athlete — completing four Ironman triathlons.

Even when he wasn’t running or fishing, Keeley remained active with several hobbies.

His hands were his main tool as he played the drums, carved soapstone and enjoyed building and fixing things.

As an active outdoorsman, Keeley’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, to please make a donation in his memory to Vernon Search and Rescue. The volunteers were instrumental in recovering Keeley’s body.

A Celebration of John Keeley’s Life takes place Saturday, Aug. 25 at 10:30 a.m. at the Alliance Church.

You can also leave a personal message of condolence to the family at