A welcome sight

Keller shares knowledge of the county with travelers visiting welcome center

Keller shares knowledge of the county with travelers visiting welcome center

September 11, 2004|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note - There are a lot of people you see around town who you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

S. Roger Keller

Occupation - Author, local tour guide and part-time employee at the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau Welcome Center.

Hometown - A native of Martinsburg, W.Va., Keller has lived in Hagerstown for 30 years.

Where would you see Keller? - Since May, Keller has been sharing his historical knowledge of the area with patrons of the Visitors Welcome Center at 16 Public Square.

Keller said there's a steady flow of people in and out of the visitors center. In the short time he's been there, he's noticed an increase in the number of people, including Realtors, from east of the county seeking information about relocating to the area.


"People are surprised at what we have here," Keller said.

To many longtime Washington County residents, Keller is known for his years as a broadcaster at WJEJ-AM and WHAG-AM. After 40 years in broadcasting - television, print and radio - Keller signed off in May, when WHAG went to an automated format.

The 1949 Martinsburg High graduate attended Shepherd College. He ran out of money before graduating and began his broadcasting career.

In college, Keller became interested in Civil War history and enjoyed visiting Antietam National Battlefield. It was the discovery 15 years ago that relatives - both his and his wife's - were in Confederate cavalry units and fought near Hagerstown, that his interest was really piqued.

Keller's historical research led to the publishing of his first book, 10 years in the making. He is currently working on his sixth book, a book on Otho Holland Williams, the founder of Williamsport.

Sharing his knowledge of the area is important to Keller. He does so by giving historical lectures to community organizations and leads tours of the county, as well as showcasing it for out-of-state tour leaders and local campground staff and front desk staff of hotels and motels.

Keller and his wife, JoAnn, live near Funkstown and have three grown children.

Hobbies - Keller considers the teaching he does for the Institute for Learning and Retirement through Hagers-town Community College a hobby.

It combines his interest in history and music. Keller, who loves classical music, played trumpet, trombone and tuba in high school, college and municipal bands.

He also sang in barbershop quartets for about 12 years and with the Mason Dixon Chorus for 20 years.

What does Keller like best about Washington County? - Keller marvels at the history of Washington County - much of it related to the Revolutionary War, Civil War and French and Indian War - and that so much of it is hidden.

"It just reeks with history," Keller said. "Digging it out is a lot of fun."

He also appreciates the architecture of the older buildings and the old stone bridges and houses.

"You get absorbed in what we have here," Keller said.

Roger Keller serves as an ambassador for Washington County as an employee of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau Welcome Center in downtown Hagerstown. He's eager to share his knowledge of the county's history with visitors.

If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024 or e-mail

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