A legacy of service: One hundred years in the making

Brooke ConnerOur Town Neighbors

A long-time supporter and volunteer for Girl Scouts celebrated a big birthday at the end of August: the big 1-0-0! Dorothy “Dot” Keller was born in 1919, just seven years after Juliette Gordon Lowe organized the first Girl Scout troop in 1912.

Dot grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where she was a Campfire Girl and later became a Girl Scout leader at the beginning of World War II. She became her daughter Jackie’s Girl Scout leader in the early 1950s and, after settling down in Oak Ridge, remained heavily involved ever since. Serving as troop organizer, neighborhood chair and member of the Highland Rim and Tanasi board of directors, Dot also attended national meetings and became a trainer of day camps and trainer of trainers within the council.

“She was a very valuable trainer in her day – the best Brownie trainer in either Highland Rim or Tanasi,” said Joyce Maienschein, a close friend and fellow Girl Scout volunteer. “She always had a song, and just maybe a little dance step! Just a clearly happy, enthusiastic person who believed in Girl Scouting!”

As a valuable volunteer for the legacy Highland Rim and Tanasi councils, Dot received a slew of awards:

  • Thanks Badge, 1972, the highest honor in Girl Scouts, given to an adult whose ongoing commitment, leadership and service have a measurable impact on the council or movement
  • Tanasi Council’s Hidden Heroines, 1976
  • Meritorious Service, 1999, given to a Girl Scout who has shown extraordinary heroism
  • Edith Lynn Heritage Award, 2001
  • Tanasi Council’s Hidden Hero, 2002
  • Thanks Badge II, 2003

Over 100 guests attended Dot’s 100th birthday party. A highlight of the celebration was Dot dancing on a table top as guests cheered! The mayor of Oak Ridge honored her with a mayoral proclamation and Gov. Bill Lee granted her the Centenarian Award.

Dot herself says: “(Girl Scouts) is a beautiful pattern that should help you in every phase of living.” And for 100 years, Dot has truly lived her life well.

Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians CEO Lynne Fugate wrote a special letter of recognition to Dot for her special day. “The enthusiasm and dedication Dot demonstrated during her years of training Girl Scouts is still remembered today and serves as a role model for our volunteers,” said Fugate. “We are so fortunate to be the beneficiary of her legacy.”

Brooke Conner is social media and content coordinator for Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians.

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