In 1976, there were very few women corporate executives in Philadelphia, so Kathryn Keeler, a phone company executive, mustered the few who existed to create the Forum of Executive Women.
"She knew firsthand how important mentoring and networking were to a woman's success in the business world," said her friend Judith Borie.
Ms. Keeler, 82, died Tuesday, Nov. 22, of cerebral hemorrhage at Einstein Medical Center, but not before cutting a wide swath as an ambitious, unselfish leader who modeled success and helped other women to achieve it.
In 1960, Ms. Keeler started out as an administrative trainee at Bell of Pennsylvania. She worked her way up the career ladder to vice president for training and development.
"She was very good at written communication and management of all aspects of corporate training," said her husband, Grant Greapentrog.
Born and reared in Harleysville, Ms. Keeler went to Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. She majored in English and later went to night school at Temple University to earn a master's of education. While at Temple, she had a woman adviser who helped her pursue a career.
She lived in Logan Square starting in 1973.
After retiring from Verizon - the successor to Bell Telephone - Ms. Keeler devoted two years to corporate fund-raising for the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and then started a second volunteer career in the arts community.
She was fascinated by dance, and determined to have an impact on groups that fostered it.
She was chair of the advisory board of Dance Affiliates, and supported the Painted Bride Art Center, University of the Arts, USA Philadelphia Dance, and Drexel University. She also was board president of the Jeanne Ruddy Dance Company and helped lead fund-raising for the Performance Garage, both on Brandywine Street in Philadelphia.
In 1973, Ms. Keeler married Greapentrog. Though the couple did not have children, Ms. Keeler was dedicated to the children of others.
She volunteered as a teacher's aide in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms at Greenfield Elementary School.
Teacher Lynne Strieb said Ms. Keeler's presence made a big difference in her day.
"With up to 33 children in a class, any extra person makes a big difference, but Kathryn was more than just a helping hand," Strieb said.
"She showed the children how to write stories, gave them extra math support, and read to them. She made sure they could talk about what they learned in their own words, and then would videotape their presentations. She made possible activities that would have been impossible, had I been alone."
Following Greenfield, Ms. Keeler volunteered at the Parent Infant Center in West Philadelphia, where she helped prepare 4-year-olds for kindergarten.
In 2013, Ms. Keeler and her husband moved from Logan Square to Cathedral Village Retirement Community in Andorra. She poured her energy into a fiber-arts program for seniors. At the time of her death, she had just become chair of the newly formed residents' finance committee.
She is survived by her husband.
A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Cathedral Hall at Cathedral Village, 600 E. Cathedral Rd., Philadelphia. Interment is private.
Contributions may be made to the Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19130, or the Parent Infant Center, 4205 Spruce St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19104.