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Bob Keck, Fire Magic Brand’s Founder, Dies

Bob Keck, Fire Magic Brand’s Founder, Dies

The RH Peterson Company mourns the loss of Bob Keck, one of the founders of the company’s Fire Magic brand, who died on June 21. Born in 1932 in Whittier, California, Keck was the eldest of four children. While in high school, Keck worked part time at the family business, making fireplaces, fireplace hardware, and grills. At Whittier College, Keck was appointed editor of the weekly newspaper while also participating in basketball, cross-country, and track (earning a place in the school’s athletic hall of fame). Keck married Carol, his high school sweetheart, shortly before graduation.

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

In the 1980s, RH Peterson wanted to expand and diversify its predominantly fall/winter product line, which led to the acquisition of Fire Magic, Keck’s company. It had been a friendly competitor of RH Peterson for many years.

After selling the Fire Magic product line to RH Peterson, Keck accepted an offer to join the company, as general manager of the Fire Magic division, beginning in 1982. During his 19 years with RH Peterson, he saw the expansion of the Fire Magic product lineup to include side burners, several styles of doors and drawers, and many new sizes of grills. He retired as vice president in 2001.

An avid runner, hiker/backpacker, and fishing enthusiast, Keck enjoyed the outdoors immensely, especially Northern California’s Sierra Nevada range. Keck hiked Mount Whitney (the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States) more than 15 times; his last trip—in 2007, at age 75— was experienced with David, Ellen, and three of Keck’s grandchildren.

The Los Angeles Dodgers might not have had another fan as dedicated: Keck was a season-ticket holder for 31 years and enjoyed attending games with David and his grandchildren. The last game they attended together was this year’s opening day.

People describe Keck as a kind, considerate, and caring man, with much respect for others and a deep love of family and the great outdoors. Keck was preceded in death by his wife and is survived by his son, his daughter, six grandchildren, five great-grand children, one brother, and two sisters.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Los Angeles Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, and mailed to BSA Tribute Fund, 2333 Scout Way, Los Angeles, CA 90026. On the check’s memo line, write: Bob Keck Tribute Fund.

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