Bernice Keller, 1923 - 2013
Bernice Bitsy Keller, Bitsy to her friends, died March 7, 2013 at her home in Bear Valley Springs. She was 89 years old.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, April 7 at 2 p.m. at the Oak Tree Country Club in Bear Valley Springs.
Bitsy was born in Chicago in 1923 to Romanian immigrants, Max and Amelia Berkowitz.
She graduated from Marshall High School and attended the University of Illinois for two years before she left to marry an Army Air Force pilot.
When the war ended, so did the marriage and Bitsy returned to Chicago to pursue a career as a fashion model.
In 1948 she married Sheldon “Shelly” Keller, an aspiring comedian who worked days in his parents’ corset business, and in 1951, the couple, along with their two children, left Chicago for New York.
While her husband struggled to begin what eventually became a successful career in comedy, Bitsy kept food on the table working as a model and a modeling instructor.
As her children became older and more independent, Bitsy needed a role beyond that of wife and mother so she resumed her education. When she and Sheldon separated in 1970, she finished her bachelor’s degree and achieved a doctorate in psychology from Pepperdine University.
One of her greatest legacies is the myriad of clients who adored her and were
grateful for the changes she helped them make in their lives.
Bitsy continued her practice until a few weeks before her death, doing personal counseling as well as dream workshops. While Jungian by training, she was a pragmatist as a counselor and said of her clients — “The problem with them is they don’t realize how wonderful they are.”
Her daughter Jamie Keller of Berkeley, her son Casey Keller of Valencia and her grandchildren, Zoe Keller, Max Keller and Joey Shemuel, and many friends from her 20 years in Bear Valley Springs survive Bitsy, who was a strong supporter of education.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in her memory to the AAUW Scholarship Fund for Women, P.O. Box 273, Tehachapi, CA. 93581.