Family and friends of Bath Rugby stalwart Jeremy Keeling, who died on September 18, 2007, have paid tribute to a man who loved life.Jerry, as he was known, lived in Bathwick with his wife Ula and died after a short battle with cancer. He was 70.He was credited with establishing Bath Rugby Supporters' Club and tributes poured in from fans and club chief executive Bob Calleja.Mrs Keeling said: "He had a very dry sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye."He just loved life with his family, his home and the occasional visit to The Pulteney Arms."Mr Keeling had three children - Angus, Emma and Bruce - and two Basset hounds, Maude and Mabel, who were part of the family and were also avid Bath Rugby fans.His daughter Emma is pregnant with twins, and they would have been Mr Keeling's first grandchildren.Mrs Keeling said: "It is particularly sad he will never get to see them, as he was such a family man and a hugely supportive husband."Mr Keeling, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, turned 70 on Sunday.He was born in Surrey and moved to the west in 1987.He was always passionate about rugby and enjoyed a long playing career, finally hanging up his boots at 49 years old playing for KCS Old Boys Wimbledon.In 1996 he joined the steering committee set up to help launch a supporters' club at Bath Rugby and at the beginning of 1997 he was voted the first chairman of Bath Rugby Supporters' Club, a position he held until 2006.The current chairman of the supporters' club, Penny Brunton, was involved in setting the club up.He said: "He nagged, cajoled, pushed and, yes, irritated, people into forming a club that would be true to its supporters."Through it all, he was a great practical joker, with immense wit and stamina."Nothing was ever too much trouble and he was always coming up with new ideas and suggestions, while ruling the committee with a firm hand. I, personally, shall miss him terribly."She said she will remember Mr Keeling as a sparring partner, a mentor and a true friend.Tributes to Mr Keeling have been posted on fans website Bath Rugby Ere and organiser Glen Leat said: "My main memory of Jerry is of a grinning face before most home matches as he teased me about something or other I was involved in at the time."I always sought him out so we could have a few minutes of laughter."Jerry was one of the most persuasive people I've ever known and this talent served the Bath Rugby Supporters' Club very well for many years. His drive made that organisation what it is today."Jerry will be missed by a lot of people."Mr Calleja said: "Jerry's contribution in the establishment of BRSC and as an avid supporter of Bath Rugby was immense and he will be fondly remembered by players and staff at the Club."All of us at Bath Rugby would like to send our condolences to his family and friends."Mrs Keeling and her family have expressed their immense gratitude to the staff at Dorothy House Hospice for their wonderful support during his illness.
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