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Cornelia F. Keller

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Published: January 23, 2013

Cornelia F. Keller of Waterford, Va., human rights activist, philanthropist, conservationist, historic preservationist, loving mother and devoted friend, died January 16, 2013, at the age of 66. She was born September 8, 1946, in Alexandria, La., growing up in Louisiana, Arkansas, New York and Mississippi. She graduated from Kent School (1964, receiving the Headmaster's Prize), Sweet Briar College (1968) and Columbia University (1971, MA in Teaching).

For two years, she taught at Dalton School in New York City. She then married and moved to Richmond, Va., where she was an activist for women's health and rights, vitally involved in the formation of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood. She was a founding member in 1979 of the Peter Paul Development Center in Richmond, the oldest community-based organization serving Church Hill children and families, and also involved in the formation of the Richmond Urban Institute. In the 1980s, living in Washington, D.C., she strove to reduce Cold War tensions through Peace Child International. Most recently, from her restored cottage in Waterford, Va., she promoted environmental conservation and historic preservation with the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, which she cofounded. She was also a significant contributor to research toward a cure and management of neurofibromatosis type II, a disease with which she lived courageously. She was known as a savvy art collector and a photographer of rare perspicuity. She was admired for her indomitable spirit.

She was preceded in death by her father, the Rt. Rev. Christoph Keller, Jr., a sister, Martha Keller, and two sisters who died at birth. She is survived by her mother, Polly Keller Winter of Alexandria, La.; daughter Cynthia Henebry (Andrew Schoeneman) of Richmond, Va., and son, Christoph (Elese) Stutts of Carrboro, N.C.; sisters: Caroline (Jim) Theus of Alexandria, La., Cynthia Davis of Charlottesville, Va., Kathryn (Scott) Anderson of Alexandria, and Elisabeth Keller (Steve Bonsey) of Cambridge, Mass.; brother, Chris (Julie) Keller of Little Rock, Ark.; grandsons, Wendell and River Schoeneman of Richmond, and Graham and John Stutts of Carrboro; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Burial will be at Inglewood Plantation, 6379 Old Baton Rouge Highway, Alexandria, La. The service will be at 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 26. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages memorial donations to the Children's Tumor Foundation, 95 Pine Street, 16th Floor, New York, N.Y., 10005; the Focused Ultrasound Foundation, 1230 Cedars Court, Suite F, Charlottesville, Va. 22903; or Journey Through Hallowed Ground, P.O. Box 77, Waterford, Va. 20197. Friends may send condolences to the family at

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