One man’s motto: To live is to love

Written by Nicholas Serrano. Posted in Featured

Published on December 07, 2011 with No Comments

How does one measure success in life? Is it by the amount of money earned? The number of expensive cars parked in the driveway? Or maybe having a wardrobe bursting with designer clothes? How about an exotic vacation home? Maybe it’s finding love, marriage and starting a family? Perhaps it’s the impression one is able to leave on people, the impact left in their lives and the positivity generated in the community.

Dr. Dan Keilman has led a life filled with patience, love and understanding. Coupled with an unconditional commitment to help others and a desire to get the most from life, Keilman has become a beacon of love and light.

Although many people in the area are familiar with Keilman from his work as a teacher and principle in local schools, his original career path was one of faith.

For more than a decade, starting in high school at Brunnderdale Seminary in Canton, Ohio, Dr. Keilman studied to be a priest.

After high school he attended St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer before transferring to St. Charles Seminary in Carthagena, Ohio where he received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from the University of Dayton.

However, after putting in so much time and effort into becoming a priest, Dr. Keilman was still unsure of what he wanted to do with himself. He decided to attend Ball State University where he gained an Indiana Teacher License and Masters Degree in Counseling. Dr. Keilman eventually went on to earn his doctorate in administrative leadership from Ball State as well.

With the degrees beginning to add up and years spent in training and in preparation for a career he was yet to truly begin, Dr. Keilman began to question whether all the years he’d spent training to be a priest had been wasted. Around this time, a priest asked Dr. Keilman to teach third grade elementary school and he accepted. Dr. Keilman worked in the Hammond schools as a teacher for four years and as an elementary counselor for two years.  He then became an elementary principal in the Duneland School Corporation for 31 years.

Dr. Keilman absolutely loved teaching children. He appreciated their enthusiasm for life, their desire to learn and spontaneous creativity. He realized his time in seminary school wasn’t wasted. On the contrary, his training to be a priest ultimately helped him to become a better teacher and principal. Dr. Keilman was able to identify with his desire to help others, whether it was spiritual or educational.

“I call it a proactive concern for everyone. I expected that if I became a priest, I would do everything I could to help people in my parish. The concept of a priest is designed to help the people. That’s what I tried to do as a teacher, principal and even as a college professor,” said Dr. Keilman.

From that first teaching position, Dr. Keilman has logged more than three decades of educational experience, including working as a principal for 18 years at Bailey Elementary in Chesterton and 13 years at Jackson Elementary in Jackson Township. At the end of the day however, throughout all the experiences, relationships, and accomplishments, all that remains for Dr. Keilman is love.

“All I know is, God is love. All I know of life is when we are in love, we are living. To live is to love,” said Dr. Keilman.

After his retirement from teaching and counseling, he worked at the Indiana Department of Education for three and a half years. 

During his years as a principal, Dr. Keilman also worked as an adjunct professor at various universities throughout Northwest Indiana.  Since his retirement, he has served as an adjunct professor at IUN where he is presently employed. It has been a life full of reaching out to others in any capacity he can, and an appreciation for the people and resources around him.

 “If I’ve been able to accomplish anything in this area, it’s due to the people from the community. You can’t run a good school without good teachers and good parents, as well as support from the administration as well,” said Dr. Keilman. “That’s when you’re successful, when everyone is playing the same game.”

 “The people in Northwest Indiana are among the friendliest in the world. My wife and I have traveled all over Europe and around the country and this area has some of the best people.” 

Approaching their 50th anniversary, Dr. Keilman and his wife, Sharron, have been married for 47 years, with four children and 10 grandchildren to show for it. Despite being married for nearly half a century, Dr. Keilman said he still learns things about his wife and is surprised when he realizes how much he still has to learn about and from her. Additionally Dr. Keilman said one of the things he looks forward to most is his family’s gatherings. Most weeks they get together to have some fun, share a meal and spend time together as a family.

With as full a life as he’s led, Dr. Keilman still has his eyes focused on making progress each day and to, “to act to my greatest capacity.”

 “I want to be an integral part of society. I want to live out my gifts. I’d like to live out my blessings, which are many, and continue to move forward and do things for people.  It all goes back to my philosophy of, ‘life is love.’ And I believe love is giving,” said Dr. Keilman. “I also think there is no such thing as love without unconditional giving. I tell my students, ‘I love each of you.’  That’s what makes us human beings. We complete our nature by loving others proactively.”

As human beings, we’re on a constant search for fulfillment and purpose as well as happiness. As a member of the Rotary Club, Dr. Keilman believes he is able to better facilitate these values in his life and in those of others.

 I like the Rotary Club because that’s where we find our definition as a human being. When we focus on the smaller personal things, our goals become smaller and smaller. When we broaden our goals, it becomes bigger and bigger. You become part of the program of life, helping others, helping the community,” said Dr. Keilman.

Recently, Dr. Keilman received recognition from the Rotary Club, in conjunction with the United Way’s Success by 6 Program and the Chesterton Park Board, with, “The Dan Dr. Keilman Born Learning Trail.” Located in Chesterton’s Dogwood Park, the trail is designed to help parents, family members and guardians interact with children in a positive and educational manner while visiting the park. The trail consists of ten stations with different activities designed to boost language and literacy development.

The Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. at the Library Service Center in Chesterton. For more information about the Rotary Club call 1-847-866-3000 or visit www.rotary.org.

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