Robert John Keller, a former teacher and football coach who grew up in and then retired to Montauk, where he had summer bartending jobs at Gosman’s Dock and other establishments, died on Monday in Richmond, Tex., where he had been staying with his daughter, Tara Glass. He was 63, and had been ill with cancer for five months.
Ms. Glass said her father was “gentle and extraordinarily kind,” and cared deeply for others, especially his family. A social man who loved a party, he was an excellent cook, known for his clam dip.
He loved to travel, especially on road trips throughout the United States and into Mexico. He enjoyed golf and fishing, and, his family said, could build or fix almost anything.
A member of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Pawling, N.Y., and in Water Mill, he served as an elder and volunteered as a teacher and on building projects.
Mr. Keller was born in Southampton on March 13, 1948, to Joseph Keller, who was known as Gil, and the former Margaret Pugh. His mother, who lives in Montauk and is known as Peggy, survives.
Eleven years after graduating from East Hampton High School in 1967, Mr. Keller earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial arts education at the State University at Oswego, and a master’s degree at the City College of New York in 1985.
From 1978 to 2006, he lived in the Hudson Valley, where he taught at the Woodlands Middle/High School in Hartsdale. As head football coach of the Woodlands Falcons varsity team for many years, he led his teams to multiple bowl games.
After his retirement from the upstate school, he worked part time for the East Hampton School District.
During the Vietnam War, Mr. Keller served in the Army, and was stationed in Turkey from July 1968 to July 1970.
On May 25, 1971, he was married to the former Ellen McDonnell. The couple had just marked their 40th anniversary. Besides his daughter, Mr. Keller leaves a son, Mark Keller of Griffin, Ga.
Also surviving are a grandson, whom Ms. Glass called “the apple of his eye,” and several siblings: Joseph Keller of Nobleboro, Me., Thomas Keller of Miranda, Calif., and Patrick Keller, Kathy Keller, Maureen Keller, and Mary Russell of Montauk.
Some of his most cherished memories were of growing up with his brothers and sisters in Montauk, his family said. Mr. Keller was “loving, firm, kind, and disciplined, all at once,” his family said, which made him not only a “quintessential father” but a great teacher, coach, and minister, they said.
A wake will be held at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton tomorrow afternoon from 2 to 4, and from 7 to 9 p.m. A service will take place at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses on Scuttlehole Road in Water Mill on Saturday at 2 p.m., with Brian Clingerman, an elder at the congregation, presiding. Burial will be at Fort Hill Cemetery in Montauk.