Norma Keller of the Norma K fleet, passed away on April 18. The daughter of the late John Kennell, Sr. who originally purchased the waterfront property that’s now the south dock of Ken’s Landing in 1932, Norma Kennell married the late Kenneth Keller who would go on to captain the Kennell’s Norma K, Norma-K II, and the later, larger Norma-K III. Capt. Ken and Norma K were married 53 years; he passed away last November.
“The recreational fishing community, and for-hire fleet in particular, lost one of its most significant members,” said Ray Bogan in an online tribute to Norma Kennell Keller following her passing. “She joins her husband, Kenny, in the hereafter. As my brother Kevin would tell you, she and Kenny were a couple of the great ones.”
Our thanks to Ray Bogan for allowing us to run the rest of his beautiful tribute to the late Norma K, while offering condolences to the entire Keller family on behalf of The Fisherman Magazine.
A few million beach goers and inlet watchers saw boats wearing her name ply the coastal waters carrying, over the years, a million or so anglers. Much of my pride in being part of the party boat/for-hire industry is that it has most often served those whose only means of enjoying our marine environment was by getting on one of these boats and being brought out to the ocean, bay or river. Norma, Kenny, Jack and her Dad made it possible for many. They provided life long memories for countless people. They also provided the platform from which some got their own boats and started their own businesses. Although Norma wasn’t one of the “sports” who was featured in the national “sport fishing” publications (other than incidental mentions), or in a fisheries Hall of Fame, she should have been. She helped provide far more great fishing experiences than just about any of them could imagine, and none of them could match. We lost a great one.
We also learned on April 20 about the passing of Capt. Art Hilliard of the party boat Eagle out of Atlantic Highlands. “A sad weekend for our fishing community,” noted Capt. Robert Barradale in a post on Facebook. “I was the night captain for Artie for 18 years and the crew and I, along with our many customers, can take some comfort in our many memories of him,” Capt. Barradale added.
Well known in the Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook region, the late Capt. Hilliard was a longtime fixture at the helm of the 50-foot, custom walk-around Eagle which carries up to 49 people.