Roger Keim was a passionate man. His many passions included, first and foremost, his family.
They also included wildlife, fishing, trains, model trains, photography, the outdoors…
Keim, who passed away on Dec. 26, was a former sportswriter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. One of his beats was the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
He brought his love of hockey to Bangor in 1976 with his wife, Dr. Angela Gilladoga, a prominent and well-respected pediatrician/heart specialist.
Dr. Gilladoga, Keim and several other community leaders, including Tom Sawyer and Doug Damon, recognized the need for another hockey arena in the Bangor area.
The University of Maine’s Alfond Arena was built in ’76, and the Sockalexis Ice Arena on Indian Island would become a reality eight years later.
But Indian Island is a little out of the way and the Sockalexis Ice Arena was in constant financial turmoil, leading to its demise and transformation into a high stakes bingo hall in 1993.
Keim proved to be a valuable sounding board for the Sawyer Arena committee that would eventually raise enough money to build the facility and constantly improve it through capital fundraising campaigns.
The City of Bangor eventually made a hefty financial contribution to the improvement of the well-used facility.
Damon said Keim was a valuable pragmatist who said the most important reason to build the facility was to give the children a chance to skate and play hockey.
“He was a super asset. He kept you grounded. Sometimes, you get so close to the workings, you don’t see the big picture. You need that person with the overall view of things,” said Damon.
“He would give you guidelines on what to do and what not to do. He would listen to what was going on at our meetings and would say something like, ‘That’s a great idea but can people afford it if you do it that way,’” added Damon. “He always insisted on keeping the rink open for the kids. It didn’t matter how good or pretty it was as long as the kids had access to it.”
The group overcame a number of obstacles while raising $200,000, including the collapse of an inflatable bubble that supplied a roof for the facility in 1987.
Undaunted, the group continued to raise money leading to a permanent steel roof two years later. Then, in 1991, the fourth and final wall was built to completely enclose the facility.
The City of Bangor supplied a $675,000 renovation in 2002 that included six new locker rooms, four with access to four-stall showers and restroom facilities.
Damon said because of Keim’s insights, they wound up with a “better rink” than they had anticipated.
“He was a team player who was always willing to help,” said Damon. “He was a great guy.”
Keim would go on to coach his son, Brandon, a defenseman who went on to play for Bangor’s John Bapst Memorial High School.
He recalled Keim as a loving husband and father and a great storyteller who never left a stone unturned.
Keim as a fascinating man with wonderful insights into hockey and sports in general. He would always have astute observations about the University of Maine men’s hockey team, and he was also a good listener who respected others’ opinions.
I always looked forward to his calls. I learned a lot from him and enjoyed our talks.
He has left a lasting legacy in his adopted hometown and will be sorely missed.