32 Parks and Counting
Charlene and Gerry Keller
With 59 countries and 32 national parks under their belts so far, Charlene and Gerry Keller love to travel and explore new landscapes. Self-proclaimed city dwellers originally from San Antonio, Texas, they grew up surrounded by the history of the Spanish missions and other Texas historical sites. Over the years, they’ve come to deeply appreciate the natural beauty of their home state, with Guadalupe Mountains National Park being a particular favorite.
“It’s pretty remote and rarely visited,” Gerry shared. “The hiking is incredible—you walk through a desert left over from the Ice Age and end up surrounded by conifer and maple forests. It’s the most beautiful place in the State of Texas.”
But one park has even Guadalupe Mountains beat in their minds. Isle Royale National Park in Michigan. It’s a rugged, isolated island cluster in Lake Superior, Michigan. Visitors need to take a ferry or a seaplane to experience the park’s pristine waters and solitude—and bad weather can scuttle a visit. Charlene and Gerry were impressed not only with the park’s astounding beauty, but with the rangers and scientists caring for and studying this unique place. In fact, they were so inspired that they decided to designate their most recent Stewardship Circle gift to help restore an important part of the island’s history, a classic Isle Royale fishing boat, called the Tern.
In addition to their annual Stewardship Circle support, the Kellers are generous members of the 1916 Society, having made a legacy gift to the National Park Foundation. As Charlene put it, “We’re happy to know the money we donate can do some real good. After all, what do we really love? The National Parks!”
As they plan their next park trip, Charlene holds Kafka’s words close to her heart: “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”