OBITUARY

Thomas Hobart Keller

May 1, 1949February 5, 2021

“Our duty is to protect the weak.”

Brunswick, ME - Lieutenant Thomas Hobart Keller passed peacefully in his home on February 5, 2021. In the early hours of February 6, two cruisers from the Portland Police Department graciously escorted Tom and his family as they remembered his life in Portland. The ceremony began with an official farewell salute outside of the PPD, where Tom served his community for 20 years. From there, the procession passed Tom’s birthplace, Mercy Hospital, his childhood home at 57 Clark St., and his adulthood residence on Deering Ave. where Tom raised his beloved children, Mark and Michelle.

Born May 1, 1949, Tom attended St. Dominic’s School and Cheverus High School where he was a member of the swim team. Tom often reflected on how his Jesuit education taught him both to question what appeared to be wrong and to work toward a more just world.

After high school, Tom joined the United States Army, eventually serving with the Blueghost Scout Platoon of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment in Chu Lai, Vietnam. Like many war vets, Tom brought home with him scars that would stay with him throughout his life. With grit and grace, Tom became a strong advocate for veterans, Veterans for Peace, the poor, and any who were taken advantage of by those “perceived” to have the power to do so.

Following Vietnam, Tom joined the Portland Police Department serving his community as patrolman, sergeant, and lieutenant. Tom shared, “I was fortunate enough to benefit from the wisdom of many, and to be mentored by several who maintained their idealism and did their best to uphold the Police Code of Ethics.” One phrase in that ‘Code, “to protect the weak,” particularly touched Tom’s spirit. He embodied this phrase as an advocate for women and families affected by domestic violence. Tom pioneered changes in how both the police and the law responded to the needs of these survivors. A longtime board member and volunteer at Family Crisis Services (now Through These Doors,) Tom played a major role in the organization’s birth and growth in the community.

After retiring, Tom moved to Hancock County, then later to Nova Scotia where he met and married “the love of his life,” Janice Langille. Together in their close-knit community of Seal Harbour, they enjoyed social events, dancing, darts, and card games. In 2019, Tom and Janice bought a home in Brunswick, Maine.

Tom enjoyed fly fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling, cooking, and talking with family and friends. A true foodie, Tom bonded over many meals-especially Pho-with his children. They loved meeting for Sunday Dinner together, ordering the entire menu, or just chatting over coffee. For more than a decade, Tom reigned as Gourmet Turkey Chef at the annual “Chosen Family Thanksgiving,” hosted in Lois Galgay Reckitt and Lyn Carter’s home. For the past seven years, Tom wintered in the Florida Keys with Janice, his brother Bill, and Bill’s wife, Carol.

Tom inspired us in many ways. He embraced recovery over thirty years ago and credited that to a life “second to none”. He would never hesitate to remind us sometimes sternly that until we walked in the shoes or next to them of those less fortunate, we had no clue. Through the beautiful acceptance of his death from bladder cancer, Tom did more to support and teach us than we could have ever done for him. A true hero, Tom’s contagious smile and witty sense of humor will remain with us always.

Tom is predeceased by his mom, Josephine Keller, dad, James H. Keller, and his younger sister, Mary Jo Van Mierlo. He is lovingly remembered by his wife, Janice, his children, Mark Keller and companion Cathleen Dubosky of Westbrook and Michelle Keller and companion Nate Walsh of Freeport, stepchildren in Nova Scotia Joseph, Stephen and Stacey Farrell, his brother Bill Keller and wife Carol of Windham, sister Jean Keller of South Portland, and John Keller and wife Laurie of Gray. Tom is also remembered by his dear, close friends, Mark Foley, Lois Galgay Reckitt, and Greg Burchstead.

At a later date, Tom’s life will be remembered and celebrated in Maine and Nova Scotia. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Through These Doors, PO Box 704, Portland, ME, 04104. www.throughthesedoors.org

Services

No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Memories

Thomas Hobart Keller

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Doug Richard

February 14, 2021

Janice ... Always liked seeing you and Tom at the card plays. He will be missed by all . Our thoughts are with you and the family at this difficult time.

Cheryl Leeman

February 13, 2021

My heartfelt condolences to the family for your loss. Had the pleasure of getting to know Tom when I first got elected to the city council, He introduced me to the police department. Tom was a dedicated public servant with a sincere commitment to our community. And he was an all around nice guy!

Kay Keddy

February 13, 2021

It was with deep sadness that I learned of Tom’s passing. I remember meeting him and family when he first visited Seal Harbour. When he became a resident in later years he was a fine neighbour to my parents and was thought of as one who had always been a member of that close knit community. Love and prayers to Janice and the family.

Philp French

February 13, 2021

I lived next door to Tom on Deering Ave. I always remember helping clip the hedges around the property. He was a great person and considered him a friend. When my mom died he was there to give words of comfort. I will miss the time spent with him. My thoughts and prayers are with Tom's family, especially Mark and Michelle. Thank you for your service and rest in peace dear friend!

Jim and Pat Goss

February 13, 2021

It was a pleasure to spend time with Tom and Janice whilst visiting Bill and Carol in the Florida Keys. We had lots of fun playing goofy games, swimming, dining and site seeing. Rest In Peace Tom.

Mike McDonough

February 13, 2021

I had the privilege of working with Tom when he was a young sergeant assigned to my B team (nights). I was a young lieutenant at the time. I always had complete confidence that Tom could handle any type of call that he was assigned to. He was an intelligent, kind, and decent man.
God Bless you Tom.

bob gowen

February 12, 2021

The summer of 1967-
Tom’s summer job was grave digging in the big cemetery at Cash Corner in SoPo .My then girlfriend ,Susan Verrill(to be my wife the next year),Tom and I developed a passion for the Red Sox as they made a heroic run to the American League pennant that summer.We watched,listened and sometimes drove to Fenway all that summer.We were allin a funk one day for no apparent reason until Tom realized it was because the Sox were in a losing streak!
Come September Tom was off to Fort Polk,La.(“the armpit of the world”according to him) for basic training.We never got to celebrate the Sox winning the pennant that Fall.
Before we knew it,he was off to ‘Nam “where he didn’t want to spend his time guarding a warehouse full of beer and Pepsi”.He didn’t.
My next memory is of Susan and I picking him up at Logan after his Army discharge.We lived in Boston by then and Tom stayed with us for a few days.He needed clothes to replace the Army fatigues that he wore home and nourishment(he was as skinny as a rail).He left for Portland and a new life clothed in “civies”and fed(thanks to Susan).
I learned to hate the whole idea of war even more deeply than I ever had before during those few days ,seeing what that war had done to him.That he was able to settle, start and raise a family and serve twenty years in P.P.D.in the years that followed is a tribute to his inner strength,spirit and goodness.
I was never able to truly reconnect with Tom on a regular basis after he was back in Portland .All the stuff that filled our lives then got in the way.
It was my loss.

John O'Connell

February 12, 2021

I’m sorry to hear of the passing of one of my dearest childhood friends. Condolences to Tom’s family, especially my old pal Billy. Watched over by our Polish grandmothers, we made Salem Street in front of the Kilfoyle’s and Talbots’s houses our playground. He hated it when we called him Hobart. Sadly, we lost touch after Cheverus and never reconnected. So long, buddy.

Francis Amoroso

February 12, 2021

Tom was a wonderful man and as good a police officer as one could find anywhere. He helped make the Portland Police Dept. The great organization it is today. My condolences to all his family.

Arnie & Debbie Cameron

February 12, 2021

Janice & All the family We are so sad to hear about Tom's passing Our thoughts & prayers are with everyone . I only met Tom a couple of times & he was a true gentleman I am sure he will be missed by everyone who knew him . May he RIP LOVE from Arnie & Debbie Cameron Nova Scotia

FROM THE FAMILY