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A Legacy of Service: One Hundred Years in the Making


Dot Keller

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 first 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 1950’s and, after settling down in Oak Ridge, remained heavily involved ever since. Serving as Troop Organizer, Neighborhood Chairman, 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. “I clearly recall the many times new Brownie leaders would come out of the training and remark about the wonderful training they had gotten from Dot! She always had a song, and just maybe a little dance step! Just a clearly happy, enthusiastic person who believed in Girl Scouting!”

Dot wrote the play that is in the patch requirements for “Secret City Oak Ridge Heritage” and put together a variety of plays along with costumes and scripts. She was active in establishing the “Wheelies” program which is now called Portable Programs for troops to use. Dot also was the decorator for the doll house that’s at the entrance to the Girl Scout Museum at Daisy’s Place at the Knoxville service center. With almost a century of involvement, Dot’s Girl Scout resume seems to never end!

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, recognizes a previous Thanks Badge award recipient who has continued to provide exemplary service in a leadership role

Over 100 guests attended Dot’s 100th birthday party. One highlight of the celebration was Dot dancing on a table top as guests cheered! The mayor of Oak Ridge paid tribute by honoring her with a Mayoral Proclamation and Governor 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.”