Anne “Michele” (Dargi) Keller passed away peacefully at home on November 25th after a hard-fought two-year battle with cancer. Michele was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania to Michael Dargi and Anne (Kondrich) Dargi. She was preceded in death by her parents and her son, Jimmy.
After graduating from Latrobe High School, Michele earned her degree from Waynesburg University, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, where she majored in elementary education. Immediately upon graduation, she began teaching 3rd, 4th and 5th grades in the Latrobe School District, loving every moment of it and developing a passion for challenging her students to excel, be creative and question for better understanding.
While attending Waynesburg, she met and fell in love with Jim Keller and they married Thanksgiving weekend in 1976. What was booked as a warm, sunny honeymoon in Hilton Head, SC turned into a long story of cold wet weather, a speeding ticket and a $150 burned out alternator; and the love story lasted more than four decades.
Soon after marriage, Jim’s work took them from western Pennsylvania on a colorful journey to Tazewell TN, Ponca City OK and Houston TX in the US and London England and Dubai UAE overseas. Always interested in history and anthropology, Michele enjoyed the travel afforded them in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, not to mention the shopping opportunities she discovered in the Dubai gold souk, Asian jewelers and British antique dealers.
Wherever they lived, Michele enjoyed making a house a home, evident in her knack for decorating. She was renowned among family and friends for her ability to dress up her home for every holiday on the calendar. Easter, July 4th, Halloween and her specialty Christmas Bingo party, to name a few. Decorative pillows, intricate floral and character arrangements woven into light fixtures – even costumes for her dogs – were legendary. Her collection grew every year, and when Michele and Jim moved to Boise in 2018, closets full of carefully labeled and packed boxes of holiday décor made the move.
Michele was an avid and accomplished tennis player, an activity that was the source of many long-standing friendships. The little five-footer had a wicked forehand and was a spunky powerhouse. A natural athlete, after hip surgery she transitioned to the gentler sport of golf and continued to enjoy the camaraderie of a weekly game.
A self-taught seamstress, Michele started sewing as a hobby to make replicas of expensive department store clothing for her children. Her skills grew to include home décor and expanded to sewing intricate dance costumes for her daughter, Liz’s, ballet performances. In time, her sewing prowess led to her making costumes for a cast of dancers with the Houston Repertoire Ballet over a span of more than 20 years. It wasn’t unusual to walk into the house during Nutcracker season and see dozens of costumes and tutus hanging on the fireplace mantle and throughout the living room.
With a wide smile and big, sparkling blue eyes, Michele was gregarious and never met a stranger. Her heart, though, belonged to her family – her husband of 45 years, Jim; her first-born son, Jimmy; and her baby girl, Liz. That love of family grew bigger when Liz married her husband, Rob Perkins, in 2017…and even bigger when she became “Mimi” to granddaughter, Birdie, in 2020. She had a strong influence in her children’s lives, sharing her love of sports and dance, and her knowledge of science, the arts and education. Jimmy was a competitive swimmer in high school and earned his degree in geology at Ole Miss. Liz spent her teen and young adult years traveling around the states training for and becoming a professional ballet dancer and now owns a classical ballet school and studio in the Boise area. Birdie already shows signs of her Mimi’s independent nature and love of painting and drawing, and there will always be a reminder – from their smiles in photographs – that they shared a joy of life and a love for their dogs – Rudy, Gonzo and Larry.