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In Memoriam
Bob Keck, 1932-2018

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

R.H. Peterson sadly reports Bob Keck, one of the founders of the Fire Magic brand, passed away Thursday, June 21.

Born in 1932 in Whittier, California, Bob was the eldest of four, with a younger brother and two sisters. While in high school, he worked part-time at the family business making fireplaces, fireplace hardware, and barbecues.  At Whittier College, Bob was appointed editor of the weekly newspaper the Quaker Campus, while also participating in basketball, cross country, and track, which later earned him a place in the school’s athletic Hall of Fame for cross country and track. Bob married his high school sweetheart, Carol, shortly before graduation. 

Bob graduated with a business degree in 1954, and re-joined Whittier Steel immediately after graduation as a full-time employee. The Kecks welcomed son David and daughter Ellen, and Whittier Steel flourished as Bob’s contributions to the design of gas grills became increasingly popular.

In the 1980’s, leaders of R.H. Peterson Co. were looking to expand and diversify their predominantly winter/fall product line, which led to the acquisition of Fire Magic Barbecues. Keck’s company had been friendly competitors with RHP in the hearth industry for many years.

After selling the Fire Magic product line to R.H. Peterson, Bob accepted an offer to join the company as general manager of the Fire Magic division beginning in 1982. During his 19 years with R.H. Peterson Co., Bob saw the expansion of the Fire Magic products lineup to include sideburners, several styles of storage access doors and drawers, as well as many new sizes of barbecue grills. The year 2001 saw the retirement of Bob as vice president.

An avid runner, hiker/backpacker, and fishing enthusiast, Bob enjoyed the outdoors immensely and especially the Sierras in Northern California. During his life, Bob hiked Mt. Whitney over 15 times; his last trip was experienced with adult kids David and Ellen, and three of the grandkids in 2007, when Bob was 75 years old! 

(Mt Whitney is the tallest mountain in California, as well as the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada – with an elevation of 14,505 feet.)

The Los Angeles Dodgers may not have had another fan so dedicated – Bob was a season ticket holder for 31 years and enjoyed attending games with David and also his grandkids. The last game they attended together was Dodger Opening Day, 2018.

During their marriage of 65 years, both Bob and Carol were very involved with the Methodist Church, having met in a youth group in high school and attending various churches in Whittier and finally as members of Fullerton First United Methodist Church. 

People describe Bob as a kind, considerate, and caring man, with much respect for others and a deep love of family and the great outdoors.

Bob is preceded in death by wife Carol and is survived by son David, daughter Ellen, 6 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren, with another on the way. He is survived by one brother and two sisters.

The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Los Angeles Area Council BSA (Boy Scouts of America). Contributions can be sent to the BSA Tribute Fund, 2333 Scout Way, Los Angeles CA, 90026. Please note on the memo line: Bob Keck Tribute Fund.

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