Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Betty MacDonald, family tragedy and unnerved allies

Timothy G. Keil Obituary 
      Timothy G. Keil 
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“We have a new success, Trump’s visit,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the governing party and Poland’s true power broker, said in a speech last week. Your visit, he said, is causing other European countries to “envy” Poland.
That remains to be seen. Your last visit to Europe in May unnerved American allies, causing some leaders to rethink the United States’ relationship with the Continent. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has already said that she expects difficult talks with you when you arrive in Hamburg on Friday for the G-20 economic summit meeting.


Betty MacDonald fan club fans

Jerry Keil, husband of Betty MacDonald's daughter Joan MacDonald Keil passed away 17 years ago. 

He died of cancer at the age of 77 on April 22, 2000.

Jerry became an FBI agent based in Seattle in 1947. 

Betty MacDonald describes this in her book 'Onions in the Stew'.

According to Wolfgang Hampel, author of the Betty MacDonald Biography and interviewer of Betty MacDonald's family and friends, published on CD and DVD by Betty MacDonald Fan Club, Jerry Keil was the kindest man on earth. Jerry was unique and answered every letter and many questions from Betty MacDonald Fans all over the world. 

Jerry Keil became Joan MacDonald Keil's adviser as she lobbied publishers to reprint the out-of-print "Nancy and Plum." When publishers rejected the reissue, Jerry and Joan printed and distributed the book themselves.

They included some beautiful family photos in this very special edition of Nancy and Plum. Both did a great work to bring Nancy and Plum back to the audience.

Jerry and Joan's son Timothy Keil, 61, was killed in a head-on collision on South Whidbey Saturday on February 14, 2015.

The accident occurred in the evening on Highway 525 near the intersection of Coles Road. 

( see obituaries below )

Jerry Keil and Timothy Keil are deeply missed.

We are sending all our love and support to the family.


Jerry Keil Obituary 

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

By Carole Beers

Seattle Times staff reporter

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 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

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

Update: South End crash claims one, injures another

State police and South Whidbey Fire/EMS firefighters work at a fatal accident scene near Coles Road on South Whidbey Saturday night. - Justin Burnett / The Record
State police and South Whidbey Fire/EMS firefighters  work at a fatal accident scene near  Coles Road on South Whidbey Saturday night.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

Alcohol a suspected factor, state police investigate survivor for vehicular homicide investigation


South Whidbey Record

Freeland is mourning the loss of one of its own this week.

Timothy Keil, 61, was killed in a head-on collision on South Whidbey Saturday. The accident occurred in the evening on Highway 525 near the intersection of Coles Road. Keil was pronounced dead at the scene.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Jo, children and grandchildren.

“It’s just a terrible tragedy,” said Pastor Jim Lindus, of Trinity Lutheran Church. “We have a community that’s heartbroken.”

Keil retired about 15 months ago from a career with the City of Bothell. A member of Trinity’s congregation, he was getting into a new rhythm of life, spending time with family and volunteering with the church, Lindus said.

He was especially active with His Hands Extended program, which works to feed and cloth Seattle’s homeless twice a month. He was a dedicated supporter and volunteer for the charity, according to Lindus.

“He was a great guy,” he said. “He had a soft and tender heart.”

“I just can’t say enough nice things about Tim,” Lindus added.

Thomas Beard, also of Freeland, was a friend of Keil’s for about 20 years. He described him as a father, a grandfather, a friend and, to some, a mentor. When he asked how you were doing, he really wanted to know, Beard said.

“He was a caring, gentle soul,” he said.

The other driver in the crash was Michelle Nichols of Clinton. She was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle from the accident scene. She was in intensive care Sunday and her condition has since been downgraded from “serious” to “satisfactory,” a hospital spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

According to the Washington State Patrol, the accident happened at 8:40 p.m. Nichols, 46, was southbound on Highway 525 in a white 1988 Ford Van and had just passed Coles Road when her vehicle collided with the guardrail on the right side of the state route. The van then crossed the centerline and stuck a northbound vehicle, a silver 1993 Honda Accord, driven by Keil.

Keil, 61, died at the scene. His next of kin were notified by a state trooper and the Island County coroner, a press memo said.

According to the release, the cause of the crash was crossing the centerline; alcohol is believed to have been involved, and Nichols is under investigation for vehicular homicide, the memo said.

“At the time of the accident there was an odor of alcohol,” said Trooper Mark Francis, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol in a follow-up interview.

He added that police obtained a search warrant to take blood samples to determine her blood/alcohol content level. The results won’t be determined for several weeks, but she was arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide that night, he said.

Nichols is a family woman with several children, and is a longtime bus driver for the South Whidbey School District, according to her Facebook page.

The affected section of the highway was closed at Craw and Maxwelton roads. An emergency landing zone was set up on the highway and an air ambulance landed and picked up Nichols. The scene was processed by Highway Patrol accident technicians, police said.

The closure lasted about four and half hours.

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Europe Will Be Watching Trump’s Visit to a Right-Tilting Poland

Opponents worry that the visit will be seen as a tacit endorsement of a Polish government that has been criticized by its European Union partners for moves to co-opt the news media, its political opponents and, most recently, the courts.
Some fear that the visit may further widen a fissure between East and West in the European Union, which Mr. Trump has disparaged previously, and embolden leaders like Mr. Kaczynski and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, who has been similarly criticized for a light authoritarianism.
One of the few points of tension is Russia, which Mr. Trump seems to like and Poland, as a former Soviet satellite, has a long history of regarding warily.
Poles will also be listening carefully for whether Mr. Trump reaffirms the United States’ commitment to respond to an attack on another NATO member. He failed to do so in a previous European tour, to the dismay of longtime European allies, which he instead upbraided as not paying their fair share for the alliance.
Mr. Trump is to meet Thursday morning with Andrzej Duda, Poland’s president, and attend a session of the Three Seas Initiative Summit, a gathering of Central European leaders.
Finally, he will deliver what the White House is describing as a major speech in the Warsaw square that was the epicenter of the Warsaw Uprising during World War II.
“He will praise Polish courage throughout history’s darkest hour, and celebrate Poland’s emergence as a European power,” Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, said during a White House briefing last week.
“He will lay out a vision, not only for America’s future relationship with Europe, but the future of our trans-Atlantic alliance and what that means for American security and American prosperity,” General McMaster said.
Critics worry that if Mr. Trump makes no mention of the concerns of the European Union and others about moves by the governing Law and Justice Party to assume greater power, it will only encourage Mr. Kaczynski to accelerate the pace of his party’s moves.
The latest is for broad change to the Polish courts, which the government says is an attempt to reform a widely reviled institution. Opponents call it part of a campaign to blunt potential opposition.
The push was quietly delayed by the government in the days leading up to Mr. Trump’s arrival late Wednesday, so as not to overshadow the visit.
“They went step by step,” said Adam Bodnar, Poland’s official ombudsman, who has come out against the court changes.
Shortly after taking power in late 2015, he said, Law and Justice first hobbled and then co-opted the constitutional tribunal, turning it from a check on the constitutionality of new laws to a rubber stamp for the government.
Then the party removed independent oversight from the secret services, asked the justice minister, a party stalwart, to also act as chief prosecutor and transformed public-owned news media into pro-government mouthpieces.
“And the courts are next,” Mr. Bodnar said.
The early moves against Poland’s constitutional tribunal set the groundwork, said Marcin Matczak, a law professor at the University of Warsaw.
Now, Law and Justice is focusing on lower courts, proposing a law that would change the way judges are selected. Instead of a National Judicial Council dominated by judges making selections, the new law would split the council in two, with judges on one side and political appointees on the other and the added stipulation that judges must be approved by both groups and then by Parliament.

“This government hates anything they don’t have full control over,” Dr. Matczak said. “Don’t you think Trump would like the power to control the courts when it is blocking his immigration moves?”
In late April, the board of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary described itself as “gravely concerned” with the government’s proposals.
On May 5, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe issued a “final opinion” that the proposed law would have a “negative impact” on the selection of judges and “should be reconsidered in its entirety.”
Law and Justice officials wave away such complaints and insist that their moves are an honest attempt to reform a bloated, entrenched and sometimes corrupt court system by putting the courts under more direct democratic control.
“Judges in Poland don’t pay traffic fines,” said Marcin Warchol, deputy justice minister. “They say it’s against the Constitution to fine them. That is why the public sees them as a privileged group. All we want is for the public to have at least minimal influence on the selection of judges.”
The government also wants to increase the efficiency of the courts, where cases often drag on for years, by streamlining their administration and limiting the scope of cases heard, he said.
Government officials say opponents are overreacting to the new court plan, which is not wildly dissimilar to others in Europe.
“Double standards!” Mr. Warchol said. “Yes, there are international standards, but there is also international hypocrisy.”
Political opponents and others have been less inclined to adopt a benign view of the proposed changes.
“As long as there are no significant protections, they will take over whatever they can get away with,” Mr. Bodnar said. “I have no doubt.”
Mr. Bodnar’s ombudsman’s office was established in the waning years of communism as a way to make sure citizen complaints got a fair hearing and an independent champion.
He has spoken out forcefully against the new proposed court law, thus far without pushback from the governing party. Others were not so lucky.
In late January, Malgorzata Gersdorf, the president of the Supreme Court, wrote an open letter urging judges to fight fiercely for their independence.
“The courts are easily turned into a plaything in the hands of politicians,” she said. “You must show that we are in opposition to the pushing of a democratic state into oblivion.”
Shortly afterward, the governing party asked the constitutional tribunal whether, perhaps, Ms. Gersdorf should be removed from office because of an alleged error in the way she was selected several years ago.
That ruling was expected two weeks ago but, like another expected ruling from the tribunal on the constitutionality of the new court laws, it was postponed until after Mr. Trump’s visit.
Jerzy Stepien, director of the Institute of Civic Space and Public Policy at Lazarski University and a former president of the constitutional tribunal, said he thought Mr. Trump’s visit was likely to offer only a temporary reprieve. The new court law will go forward, he said, with many more to come.
“They are destroying all the institutions we had been dreaming about under communism and that we have been building for 20 years,” Mr. Stepien said.