Jerry Ray Keeling, 78, Tulsa, passed away unexpectedly on January 20, 2018, at his home. Jerry was born in Paris, Texas, on August 2, 1939, to Thelma and John Keeling of Idabel.
He lived in Amarillo, Texas, then moved with his family to Enid, where he attended and graduated from Enid High School in 1957, as salutatorian.
In high school, he was a four-sport letterman in football, baseball, basketball and track. He was all-state in both football and baseball, and also led his state championship basketball team in scoring.
He continued his education at Tulsa University and graduated with a degree in psychology. While at Tulsa University, he met and married the love of his life, Vella Lou Friend of Broken Arrow, in 1960. Jerry and Vella just celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary.
He was a scholarship athlete while attending college and was an All-Missouri Valley selection at quarterback in 1959 and 1960, in football. He played in the North/South All-Star game in 1960, and was inducted into the Tulsa University Hall of Fame in 1989.
After college, Jerry signed a professional football contract with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. He played professionally in Canada for 15 years with the Stampeders, Ottawa Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger Cats.
He earned CFL all-star honors in 1964,1965 and 1967, as a defensive back. In 1969, he moved to quarterback and led the Calgary Stampeders to the Grey Cup Finals in 1970, and won the Grey Cup Championship in 1971.
Jerry was traded to the Ottawa Roughriders in 1972, and led them to the Grey Cup Championship in 1973. He played his last season in 1975, with the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Jerry was voted to the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame in 1989, and joined the Stampeder Wall of Fame in 1990.
After retiring from playing football, he continued a career in football coaching at Northwestern State University in Oklahoma, Ottawa Rough Riders, Calgary Stampeders, British Columbia Lions and Saskatchewan Rough Riders. He ended his coaching career with Southwestern State University in Oklahoma.
In 2000, the Enid Daily Eagle named Jerry the Athlete of the Century for Northwest Oklahoma. He was named by the Daily Oklahoman as one of the Top 30 All Time Oklahoma All State Football Players for the 20th century. He was also selected to the Canadian Football League All-Time All-Star team.
Jerry was predeceased by his parents, his brother John Keeling Jr. and his son Tucker Keeling.
Jerry is survived by his wife Vella of Tulsa; his daughter Tina Winzeler and husband Doug of Oklahoma City; his son Terry Keeling and wife Jennifer of Tulsa; nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
In retirement, Jerry enjoyed time in Tulsa with his family, fishing, golfing, watching sports and playing with his grandchildren who will miss their "Papa." He was blessed to spend his last days with his wife Vella, who was the love of his life.
The family would like to thank Dr. Gerard McNulty for all of his kindness and the good care that he provided to Jerry and the rest of the Keeling family over the years.
A memorial service is 2 p.m. Friday, January 26, 2018, at Fitzgerald Southwood Colonial Chapel, Tulsa.
Visitation is 5-7 p.m. Thursday, January 25, 2018, at Fitzgerald Southwood Colonial Chapel.
Fitzgerald Southwood Colonial Chapel, 918-291-3500. www.FitzgeraldSouthwoodChapel.com.
Published on January 23, 2018