To our readers,

The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century type story, ... Click here to continue

People Around Us

Familiar face, voice, caricature, Keller holds decades of community service

Hope fire chief is longtime employee of Rankin's Hardware and Building Supplies
By Holly Vanorse Spicer | Jun 25, 2020
Courtesy of: Facebook Pictured is Clarence Keller, left, and his wife, Nancy.

Hope — After more than three decades of service to the five town area, it probably is safe to assume most know the name Clarence Keller.

Keller, 55, has been a longstanding member of the Hope Fire Department, serving as chief. He also has been a staple to the Midcoast home improvement crowd through his job at Rankin's Hardware and Building Supplies in Camden.

Residing in Hope with his wife, Nancy, Keller also has three children who live in the area with their families.

It was 34 years ago that Keller began working at Rankin’s, helping customers and area carpenters locate their home project and renovation needs.

He said he enjoys the customer service aspect of the job, as it allows him to help people solve problems.

To many, Keller has come to be known as the voice — and face — of Rankin’s Hardware and Building Supplies.

He said the business wanted to do radio advertisements, and it had become obvious to him at that time the same few people at the radio stations cut all of the ads, making them sound similar.

“I tried doing a few, and it worked. The rest is history, as they say,” Keller said.

“Often, those that didn’t know me, after coming in the store would say, 'You’re the guy on the radio.' The voice gave me away,” he said.

Keller’s likeness also has been "cartoonized" over the years and often is seen in print ads, and on the Rankin’s website.

When he is not helping people solve home improvement troubles, Keller wears the hat of fire chief for the town of Hope —a hat he has donned for more than three decades.

He joined the Hope Fire Department his senior year of high school in 1983. Just five years later, the standing chief, Wayne Berry, announced he would step down.

“As no one else seemed to be interested, I thought, hey, maybe I could do that,” Keller said.

“Here we are almost 32 years later,” he said.

Around 15 years ago, Keller decided to get his Emergency Medical Technician license.

“To occupy my spare time,” he said.

Now, he does duty nights with Union Fire and Rescue, as well as occasionally lending a hand with the North East Mobile Health Services.

Keller said his hobbies include fishing, camping, and postage stamp collecting.

“None of which I get to do as often as I would like.” he said.

Stamp collecting, he said, began with his brother, and a friend growing up. The friend’s father was a mailman.

“It’s extremely fascinating,” Keller said.

He said it is not so much the potential value in the stamps, but the history they tell, and in the much older ones, being able to see the distinctive printing.

This past holiday season, Keller was a part of the 23rd annual Living Christmas Tree. The Living Christmas Tree is a community choral group that performs annually at the Thomaston Baptist Chuch.

“I have always loved music, and often sing solos at church, as I have special music usually on the fourth Sunday of each month,” he said.

He always had wanted to be a part of a singing group, but the time to do so had not been available. Through his role as EMA director at the Emergency Medical Association office, he connected with an acquaintance, who happened to be the director of the tree.

"Christmas is always a wonderful time of year as we celebrate the birth of Christ," Keller said.

"It was just a lot of fun doing what I loved, singing Christmas music," he said.

To the high school and college graduates in the area, who get ready to begin the next chapter of their lives, he said to never give up, and to keep smiling.

“Love everyone unconditionally, because we live in a very conditional world," he said. "If you want to feel fulfilled in your life, the more you give of yourself, the fuller your life will be."

Suggestions for the People Around Us feature are welcome. Email or call News Director Dan Dunkle at 594-4401, ext. 122.

Clarence Keller is pictured, cartoonized for Rankin's Hardware and Home Supplies advertising and company's website. (Courtesy of: Rankin's Hardware and Lumber)
Hope Fire Chief Clarence Keller accepts a special award from Pamela D. Megathlin of the Maine Department of Labor  in 2016 for the Hope Fire Department's exceptional occupational safety record. (Photo by: Susan Mustapitch)
If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at
Comments (4)
Posted by: Dorinda Jacobs | Jun 25, 2020 19:40

She used to be my very best friend.  Congrats.

Posted by: Rick Winslow | Jun 25, 2020 09:47

The faces (both) I recognized immediately.

I used to work on office equipment as a living and one of my stops was Rankin's Hardware.His wife Nancy was always in the office doing some project or another. I remember she was rewiring old light fixtures at one point. They both are very nice people.

I never got to say goodbye when I left my job due to health reasons. Most of my clients from around the State I got to know pretty well and enjoyed visiting in my travels. These were some of the best!


Posted by: Keryn Laite | Jun 25, 2020 09:39

A true staple in an extended community. There is nothing more calming in the time of need than a familiar face. Thank you Clarence for your selfless commitment to our community with everything you do.

Posted by: Joanne Kenney | Jun 25, 2020 08:12

Great article, wonderful person, and wonderful family!




If you wish to comment, please login.