Joyce Garver Keller, the longtime executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities, died unexpectedly over the weekend. She was 68.
Ms. Garver Keller was a key advocate at the Statehouse for many years, working legislative halls on a variety of issues. She also played a key role in the development of and fundraising for the Statehouse's Holocaust Memorial, which was dedicated in 2014.
"Joyce was a tenacious advocate who managed, over three decades, to keep everyone's respect," said Howie Beigelman, who succeeded her as the leader of OJC.
"Advocates and elected officials across the political spectrum took her counsel and asked her advice. She was a mentor to countless staffers, an advisor to numerous public officials, and a friend to anyone trying to make the world a better place."
Her political connections and friendships were deep, as was evidenced by the outpouring of sympathy from a number of top Ohio officeholders including both U.S. Senators, Gov. John Kasich and legislative leaders.
"The passing of Joyce Garver Keller is a deep personal loss for me and for so many others in Ohio who valued her friendship and have long admired her leadership. I will forever be grateful for her essential role in helping make the Ohio Holocaust and Liberators Memorial a reality," Gov. Kasich said in a statement. "Her dedication to the Jewish community, as well as her understanding of the importance of leading lives of commitment to values larger than ourselves, is a model for us all."
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) stated, "I am incredibly saddened to have learned of the passing of my dear friend, Joyce Garver Keller. There was no stronger advocate on behalf of the Ohio Jewish community than Joyce. I'll miss her greatly, but I know that her legacy of tireless work and her heart for service will never be forgotten.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland said on Twitter Ms. Garver Keller "was a good friend and a truly wonderful person. My thoughts and prayers are with her family."
Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley Twp.) called her a "tireless advocate" for the community and a "dear friend."
Ms. Garver Keller retired from her position with Jewish Communities last summer, but continued to serve as a member of the Capitol Square Foundation.
Foundation Chairman Charles Moses said Ms. Garver Keller will be dearly missed.
"Joyce served as a board member of the Capitol Square Foundation for more than 12 years and was actively involved with every Foundation project. She was a tireless and determined advocate for the betterment of the Ohio Statehouse and all that goes with it," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her family."
Ms. Garver Keller is survived by husband, Steven; son, Stuart Keller, and his wife, Michelle Dubrow; and grandchildren Izzy, Harry and Simon.
A service will be held at 10 am, Wednesday, May 4 at Congregation Agudas Achim, 2767 E. Broad St., Columbus.