Obituary: Steve Keil

Steve Keil
Posted at 8:12 AM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 18:42:07-04

Steve Keil passed away from stroke complications at Benefis Hospital the morning of July 30, 2021 with his wife and daughters by his side.

Steve was born and raised in Conrad. Towering at 6’9, Big Steve was the tallest guy in the room and a stand-out basketball player at Conrad High School. He went to the University of Utah on a basketball scholarship and returned to Conrad upon the death of his father to farm his parents’ farmland east of Conrad with his two older brothers, Edgar and Dan.

Upholding his parents’ progressive farming values and traditions, Steve was passionate about soil conservation and practiced no-till farming, crop rotation, and new grain markets. Steve enthusiastically embraced the development and marketing of canola in Canada and eventually the U.S. in the 80s and 90s. He lived his values and insisted on only using Canola Harvest margarine for the last 30 years. Later in his farming career, he embraced pulse crops for their soil benefits and export markets - a forward thinker who loved new ag opportunities and possibilities.

Steve's intellectual and cultural curiosity led him to state, national, and international agricultural advocacy. He held leadership positions in the Montana Grain Growers Association and National Association of Wheat Growers. Steve was part of a 3-person USDA delegation of farmers for a spring wheat crop inspection in Russia - an effort to normalize relations during the Cold War. Domestically, he was proud of his involvement to establish access to the best health insurance available to farmers in the 80s and 90s. His keen understanding of insurance markets, knowledge of farming financial challenges, desire to help, and outspokenness were traits that remained true throughout his life.

To know Steve was to know that he was devoted and loyal. He relished telling those within earshot about what he loved. His favorite brands were John Deere implements and Ford vehicles. He enjoyed the company and friendship of his many dealers and business partners. Steve was also dedicated to the First Presbyterian Church, MSU Bobcats, the Democratic Party, and every activity that his kids and grandkids were involved in. He was the family's #1 fan.

Steve is survived by his wife of 51 years, Linda (Conrad); daughters Stephanie (Great Falls) and Katrina (Golden, CO); his pride and joy grandchildren, Alison, Reed, Steele, and Scarlet Harris; nieces Gail Carter & Nancy (Walt) Backer (Edgar); and nephews Jeff (Kim) Keil (Edgar), John & David Keil (Dan). He is preceded in death by his parents (John & Norma) and brothers (Edgar & Dan).

Steve's memorial service will be Monday, August 9th at 10:30 am at the First Presbyterian Church in Conrad. Due to the Covid Delta variant, the family respectfully asks those attending to consider masking or vaccination to keep the community safe, as Steve practiced himself. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations honoring Steve to: Conrad First Presbyterian Church, PMC Health Foundation, or your choice - just do good and help someone.