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Standard Oil Co. of N.Y.

Soochow, China. 
Nov. 8, 1918. 

Dear Mrs. Keeler: 


Long before this reaches you, you will have had the news of your son’s sad death. It has been such a shock to us all, I believe that every American in Soochow to-day is grieving for Mr. Keeler, and the Chinese Staff in the office are very deeply moved, as your son was loved by the foreigners and Chinese alike. 

Mr. Babcock and I both feel very much broken up over it, as he has lived here with us for more than a year and we feel just as though we had lost a brother. We knew him so well, and we were at his bedside at the last. He recognized my husband just before he lapsed into unconsciousness. Dr. Young, who was one of his best friends in China, performed the operation and was with him constantly until the end. 

He was taken to the hospital on Saturday evening – one week ago to-morrow – and he had only apparently been slightly ill for two days. The doctor found, however, on examining him that he had appendicitis and while he did not dream that it was so serious, he thought best to have Mr. Keeler over at the hospital in case he grew worse. On Monday at noon he was operated on and the doctor found that his appendix was in a far worse condition than he thought possible, as he had never before complained of any discomfort. The doctor has written you the rest, I am sure, but not knowing all the circumstances. I thought you might be glad to hear that everything possible was done for Mr. Keeler and on the day before his death he mentioned that he was getting far better attention here at the hospital than he would have gotten in Shanghai. He had four nurses – two in constant attendance during the day – and two at night, and as the doctor lived in the same compound as the Elizabeth Blake Hospital, he could be reached at any hour of the day or night. Mr. Keeler seemed very well satisfied to be there among his friends – and some of the people at the mission read to him every day. 

Today there was a memorial service over at the little church at Dr. Young’s. The Rev. P. C. DuBose read the service in Chinese, as there were many of Mr. Keeler’s Chinese friends present – and Rev. F. H. Throop and Rev. H. A. McNulty the English service. Both Mr. McNulty and Mr. Throop are writing you as they have come to me for your address. The flowers were beautiful – even the Chinese staff sent five wonderful wreaths and every one of them attended the service – from the compradore down to the coolie. 

Tomorrow afternoon is the funeral service in Shanghai. We are leaving in the morning. We are so sorry your daughter cannot be with you now when you so need her sympathy and help, but you will take this as bravely as you can, I know, as many another Spartan mother who has given up her only son. We prayed that you and Miss Keeler would be given strength to bear your loss, and may I say that everyone in Soochow feels very deeply for you! Some people have come down since I’ve been writing this, from Wusih – a town about fifty miles from here. They are so shocked. 

Please accept our deepest sympathy, Mrs. Keeler, and anything you want to learn about Henry, that I have not mentioned, please let me know. My husband will write you in a few days about his affairs. 

Most sincerely yours,
Norma N. Babcock  

Soochow, China. 
Nov. 8, 1918. 

Dear Mrs. Keeler: 

It is very difficult for me to write about Henry, but it would be even more so to remain silent. We had a very happy little family here till he went to the hospital. I couldn’t feel more deeply affected if news of my own brother’s death in France were to reach me. 

You mustn’t feel that Henry passed away alone and among strangers, for such was not the case. There is quite a large foreign community here and in nearby Shanghai that had a very real affection for him. The attendance at the services here and in Shanghai was very large. 

Mr. and Mrs. Babcock are both writing you, but I thought you might be interested in hearing from a chap who sat opposite him at meals for nearly a year and who, as the only other bachelor member of the mess, was more closely associated in a sense. 

He had a very keen sense of humor and I was often highly amused at his quizzical observations. His work for the company was par excellence, and I think there were few of the New York classmen who had a better knowledge of the Chinese language. The Chinese liked him, and the Chinese are real folks and their estimate of a man counts. Henry was a good pal. He was rarely cross or out of sorts. He often referred to his mother and “Cora”, so I feel in a way that I am not addressing a stranger. These words are not intended as a eulogy, but are merely a very lame expression of my very deep regard for Henry. 

I expect, D. V., to go home in a year, and I should count it a privilege to be allowed to call on you and tell you anything further that you might like to know. In the meantime I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the grief that is yours over the loss of your son and my good friend – Henry. 

Sincerely yours,
Monte T. Smith.  

American Presbyterian Mission
Soochow, China
November 8th, 1918. 

Mrs. Jas. E. Keeler, 
Berkeley, Cal. 

My dear Mrs. Keeler: 

Although a stranger to you I wanted to take this opportunity to write you a note, since I have been very well acquainted with your dear son during his stay here in Soochow. The premises of the Standard Oil Co. are very near to us, so that [it] has been my privilege to see much of your son. 

He has been a frequent visitor at our home and had made a warm place in the hearts of those in the foreign community. His manly courage and frank friendliness had made him a welcome guest and companion everywhere. In a land where there have been so many shipwrecked lives, where honor has often been reckoned poor business, he had kept himself clean and unstained. But a few weeks ago I was talking with him about the progress of the mission work and he as ever showed a great enthusiasm. Seldom have I talked with him that the conversation did not turn to the deeper things of life, which I regret to say is very infrequent among our business men out here. I do want to say this right here, however, the present crew in the Standard Oil Co. are as fine a group of men as I have ever met. 

We could not let his body leave us to-day until we had held a service here in Soochow. All of the foreign business men were present, as well as a goodly number of the Missionary body and a host of Chinese, with whom he was a great favorite. We met at the chapel of the hospital where he died. Rev. Henry McNulty of the Episcopal Mission read the funeral service after the singing of Rock of Ages. Miss Lippscomb of the Methodist Mission sang “He Giveth His Beloved Sleep.” It was my privilege to give a short address in English, and Rev. P. C. DuBose of the Southern Presbyterian Mission spoke in Chinese. It was a very simple service, but we were glad to have a part in showing our respect to a man highly honored among us and as we believe also in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

With this letter goes the deepest sympathy of the entire community and may He, who has been the comfort of all true believers throughout the centuries, comfort your broken heart. 

With sincerest sympathy, I beg to remain 
Very respectfully,

Frank H. Throop.  

Tsingkiangpu General Hospital 
Southern Presbyterian Mission  
Tsingkiangpu, Ku., 
Nov. 20th, 1918. 
Nelson Bell, M. D. 

My dear Mrs. Keeler: 

It is very hard to write a letter such as this, but every one in this station is anxious to let you know how very much we do sympathize with you at this time and I have been wishing to write you ever since the sad news came, but had to write to Shanghai first to get your address. 

Although your heart must be very sad I know it would help to comfort you if you could hear the remarks of friendship and esteem the Chinese have to show how much they thought of your son. It is rare indeed that one in business has their love as he had and it was because he was kindly and always had a cheery word for them. All of foreigners feel as though we have lost a member of our mission, for we loved him dearly. He came to China a few months before I did, and I knew him well here until he was transferred to Soochow, and after that we wrote to each other, and this fall I was in Soochow a day and saw him and felt as though I had seen a sure enough friend again. We all held him in such high esteem and in many ways he showed his interest in our work and interests and he was by far the most intimate friend we have ever had here representing business interests, not that we have not had friends among them but he was such a home body and entered into our home life, so we felt as though he was one of us. 

I just don’t know how to write to comfort you, but I do believe it would be a great comfort to you to know how much we all thought of him. Please accept my sincere sympathy, and I only wish there was some way in which I could bridge the miles and do something to make it a little easier for you. The prayers of many have gone up for you in the last few days and it is my prayer that He will be your constant stay and source of comfort. 

Yours most sincerely,
Nelson Bell.  

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