By: Bill Schammert
If you know Wilber, Neb., you know Czech Days. And if you know Czech Days, then you knew Charles Keller, better known as, "Czech Days Charlie."
It was a packed house Wednesday afternoon at the Sokol Hall in Wilber. His family says it's the way Charlie would've wanted his funeral to go, a celebration of 76-years with hundreds of family and friends.
"He always said he had cold hands and a warm heart," his daughter, Cristen Keller, said. "Just knowing he touched so many people in the community is incredible."
"He loved the interaction and wanted this community to grow and become stronger," his son, Darin Keller, added.
We caught up with Charlie and his wife Mary Jean last summer as they were honored with the Community Service Heroes award for their service to Czech days.
Humble, they told us they were speechless, just two peas in a pod having fun.
Charlie was president of Czech Days for the past 12-years; the driving force behind turning a town of 1,700 into a town of about 50,000 for one special weekend every year.
"He changed it for so many people and made it okay for people to be proud of their heritage and where they came from in Wilber," Cristen Keller said.
A husband, a father and a grandfather, his children know one thing, "Czech Days Charlie" will leave a lasting legacy.
"He was so kind, loving and compassionate," Cristen Keller said.
"He was just an inspiration to everybody," Darin Keller added.
Fittingly, at the bottom of the program, a simple note.
"Charlie would want to remind everyone that Czech Days 2013 is only 100 days away."