Kenneth William Keltner

Bill Keltner


Kenneth William Keltner

BSIE ‘59

General Manager

Southwestern Bell

Kenneth William “Bill” Keltner was born in Springfield, Missouri, and spent most of his youth in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

He entered the University of Arkansas in 1955, majoring in Industrial Engineering. During his time at the University, he was active in Sigma Nu and Theta Tau fraternities, and was president of the Arkansas Booster Club. In his sophomore year, he met Patricia “Pattee” Cross. The two began dating shortly thereafter and never looked back.

The pair graduated in 1959 and were married a few months later in Bauxite, Arkansas, the beginning of a 52-year marriage that lasted until Bill’s death in 2011.

Shortly after graduating, Keltner took a job with Southwestern Bell in Little Rock. He would spend his entire career at Southwestern Bell in various positions, including business development and serving as a department head. He took time out from his career to serve as a Field Artillery Officer in the U.S. Army, and ultimately retired from Southwestern Bell as a General Manager. His family members note he loved traveling the state of Arkansas to meet with business owners to find out how he could help solve their problems.

While industrial engineers are trained to focus on improving systems and processes, Keltner always loved the people-facing side of his job most. During his time at Southwestern Bell, Keltner formed many lasting friendships and served as a mentor to many colleagues throughout his career.

Keltner also found time to give back to the University of Arkansas, serving as president of the U of A Academy of Industrial Engineers and on the Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council. He would later be chosen for the University of Arkansas Hall of Fame and was named a Distinguished Alumni of the College of Engineering. 

A longtime community volunteer, Keltner served as Chairman of the Board of the Pulaski County United Way, Chairman of the Board of the American Cancer Society-Arkansas Chapter, President of the Arkansas Arthritis Foundation Board of Directors and later serving on the national board of directors, Chairman of the Administrative Board at Trinity United Methodist Church, Board Chairman of the Little Rock Metropolitan YMCA, board member for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, board member of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, board member of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, board of directors for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas, board member of the Boy Scouts of America-Quapaw Council, a member of the Telephone Pioneers of America, and the West Little Rock Rotary Club. He was appointed by Gov. Mike Beebe to serve on the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, and was later selected by the Governor’s Council on Volunteerism as one of the state’s outstanding community leaders. 

Keltner passed away in 2011, and his wife Patricia passed away in 2012. They are survived by their three children, Ann Slack, Bob Keltner and Julie Hughes.