Rod Keup’s family said that his death on Wednesday, Jan. 25, was a “huge shock.” Keup, 58, had just returned from a two-week Mexican vacation with his wife, Randi, and was in his truck helping to pull a friend’s rig out of the snow when he suffered an apparent embolism and died instantly. Randi said that while Rod had a few serious medical issues in the past, last December he received a positive check-up.
Tall and thin with dark hair and an easy smile, Keup (pronounced Kipe) was a friendly face behind the counters of first the Haines Quick Shop and for the last five years at Doug Olerud’s Alaska Sports Shop, which was a bit of a dream job.
“Rod loved fishing. He loved talking about fishing and he loved helping other people go fishing,” Olerud said. “He’d spend 45 minutes with a person new to town and get them set up - rod, reel, line, the swivel and the hook - right down to what knot to tie and which part of the river to fish in.” Olerud said Keup fished just about every day. “He’d come in at ten and he’d already have been out fishing for three hours.”
Keup first saw Haines in 1996 while visiting his wife’s relatives. He loved it and kept returning. “It got to the point where Rod said, ‘I don’t want to leave here,’ so in 1998 we moved for good,” Randi said.
Rodney L. Keup was born in South Dakota on Oct. 16, 1953, and reared by his parents Al and Phyllis (Olsen) Keup in Portland, Oregon, where he was a track star at Marshall High School and broke a school record at the state championships, Randi said. “He was such a big guy they wanted him to go out for basketball, but he loved track. He was a runner.”
After graduation he enlisted in the Navy and served during the Vietnam War. He returned to Portland and drove semi trucks on the West Coast most of his life. A fly fisherman and a spin caster, he always took his rods with him and frequently returned with fish. He met redhead Randi Povey in 1985 playing pool. “He was color blind and thought my hair was purple,” she said. They built a home in Beaver Creek, Oregon in 1993 and were married there.
For several years Keup played in the pool league with Klukwan elders Smitty and Char Katzeek. Char said he was always happy to see them. “He was real talkative and had a great sense of humor. He was a good guy. I’ll miss him.” Lately the husband, father and grandfather spent a lot of time enjoying opera sensation Il Devo, thanks to a CD given to him by a granddaughter. “The music made him very happy and he listened to it as loud as he could,” Randi said.
Doug Olerud still can’t quite believe his friend and dedicated employee is gone. “This is just another reminder to us that we need to make the most of every day,” he said.
Keup’s father, Al, preceded him in death. He is survived by his mother, Phyllis, of Gresham, OR, and siblings Karon of Gresham, Joanne of Portland and Arlen of Beaverton; wife, Randi, and sons Bobby Miller of Portland and Craig Miller of Haines; and grandchildren Cassie, Brittany, Nick, McKenzie, Gabi and Aliza Miller. Keup was close to Randi’s sister Teri Povey of Haines and her sons Kris and Ben Miller and Ira Henry.
A celebration of his life is scheduled for 4:30 today (Thursday) at the ANB Hall.