Travis A. Keller


Travis A. Keller

Honorary Alumni

Travis "Trav" A. Keller grew up a proud Tennessean with northern ties and a liberal education. His parents were both from Tennessee. His father was a steel specialist and worked on projects in Detroit and Tennessee. While his family was in Detroit, World War II started. His father joined the Navy Seabees and his mother became "Rosie the Riveter." His parents did not want him to forget his roots so he became accustomed to flying or bussing alone by the age of seven between Detroit and Johnson City. From his mother's side, Keller is a descendant of the original State of Franklin families, who were in our present-day region prior to Tennessee's statehood. Growing up he spent the school year in Detroit and summers in East Tennessee. He graduated from Mackenzie High School in Detroit, MI. During high school, he was double promoted twice and allowed full freedom for the choice of his classes. He carried a twenty-four hour load rather than the normal sixteen hours' class load. Upon high school graduation, he worked in technical sales for a glass contractor and a glass manufacturer.

In 1963, Keller had the opportunity to buy a one-third interest in Laviollete Glass Company in Detroit. In time, Keller was able to purchase the other two-thirds interest and expanded the company by designing and building a new 12,000 square foot two-story office and warehouse. It was the first uncased glass facility in the world, handling glass sizes up to 144 inches by 130 inches. Because of the advanced material handling techniques and new production lines, the company grew and prospered under Keller's leadership.

In the meantime, his family had tried to encourage him to move to Johnson City and attend East Tennessee State University; instead, he chose marriage and acquired the newly-found responsibilities of owning and managing a company. During this time, he did continue his education with classes at Fordson Community College and the University of Michigan. Unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce but produced three very fine children: Sherry Keller, a Dell Computer Technical Editor, Brad Keller, an autistic young adult specialist, and Cynthia Keller Playfair, MD, a product of ETSU's Quillen College of Medicine. Keller later married Linda Shoults and they adopted a son, Glen. The couple now has six grandchildren.

In June of 1977, the couple relocated to Johnson City and incorporated the Keller Glass Company commencing operations from temporary quarters in the Young's Tobacco Warehouse. Keller designed and built the current 16,000 square foot office and warehouse building that now houses Keller Glasco, Inc. on East Oakland Avenue in Johnson City.

When Keller started thinking about retirement, he encouraged four key employees to become the new owners, and they are doing a remarkable job. Now 75 years old, he has hosted an uninvited guest, Parkinson's disease, for the last twenty-five years and he has been fully retired for five years. He relies on the love of his life during the past thirty-eight years, his wife Linda, to get out and about. He will not drive out of consideration for others.

He is a member of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, where he chaired the construction of the Fellowship Hall, the kitchen, and six classrooms. He also designed the glass entrance doors into the church. He helped start a new Sunday school class, and he has served on various committees. Keller founded and was President of the Parkinson's Support Group and he was also the Founder and President of the Tri-Cities Computer Club. He served on the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra Board, and was a member of the ETSU Friends of the Library Association. Active until five years ago, he is now a Senior Inactive and remains supportive of the Johnson City Tuesday Noon Rotary Club. Keller was also President of the Evening Rotary Club in 1984 and is a Paul Harris Fellow for Rotary International. He has been active in many glass industry organizations and committees. In Detroit, Keller served as chair of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) Industry Relations Committee. He also continues to sit on the Keller Glasco Board of Directors.

Since the time he moved to Johnson City, ETSU has become a very important part of his life from attending the football and basketball games, concerts and artist series, to becoming a member of the ETSU Foundation and supporting the Roan Scholars Leadership Program.   He and Linda are members of the ETSU Legacy Circle and the ETSU President's Trust Silver Society for their generous support. At times, he looks back and wishes he had followed his family advice and attended ETSU knowing now he would have received a great education. 4/12