Robert Keller

Robert Keller, The Evening Sun's first metropolitan editor and later executive director of the Greater Baltimore Committee, died May 12 of complications from Crohn's disease at Harbor Hospital. He was 71.

The son of a banker and a bookkeeper, Robert Keller was born in Trenton, N.J., and raised in Baltimore's Howard Park neighborhood.


He earned his high school diploma and bachelor's degree in 1963 from St. Mary's Seminary & University in Roland Park.

Mr. Keller was a reporter for The Catholic Review from 1963 until 1965, when he joined the staff of the Delmarva Dialog in Wilmington, Del.

In 1967, he joined The Evening Sun as a reporter and in 1972 became city editor. After a newsroom reorganization, Mr. Keller was named the paper's first metropolitan editor.

He left The Evening Sun in 1989 when he was named executive director of the Greater Baltimore Committee, where he was credited with establishing the Leadership Program. He also pushed for an NFL team and new stadiums.

Mr. Keller was named president of Detroit Renaissance in 1993, a position he held for four years. He was then appointed assistant city manager of Clearwater, Fla., where his focus was economic development.

He also established the first Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Program, a land revitalization program that cleans up properties contaminated with hazardous substances, in Pinellas County, Fla., and worked to redevelop downtown Clearwater.

Mr. Keller, who retired in 2005, remained active in political campaigns. Two years ago, he moved to Federal Hill, where he continued his hobby of photography and won several awards, said family members.

Services are private.

Surviving are his wife of five years, the former Diane Englert; two daughters, Kristin Duda of Phoenix, Baltimore County, and Kara Keller Wu of Charlotte, N.C.; two sisters, Theresa Maranto of Bel Air and Barbara Keller of Winston-Salem, N.C.; and three grandchildren. Two earlier marriages, to the former Carol Jager and to Sue Ann Whitley, ended in divorce.