April 24, 2018

Remembering Keefer Flanner — 1932-2014



Remembering Keefer Flanner — 1932-2014

Keefer Flanner with his wife, Donna Ferro, “smoking” the Messenger for the 30th Annniversary issue in 2006.

A time and place has been set for Keefer Flanner’s memorial, Sept 6, at 3 p.m. at the Topanga Community House.

The family and celebrants of Keefer’s life will provide another of its unbelievably scrumptious potluck offerings to acknowledge the joyous gift that “The Pool Man,” the sailor, the motorcycle man, mentor to the community’s kids and friend to all animals, was to all who knew him.

Flanner passed away at his home, Sunday, June 22. He is survived by his daughter, Jeanine Flanner, son, James Flanner, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren, all of Missouri. Flanner’s wife, Donna Ferro, pre-deceased him in December, 2007. Below are remembrances from people who knew him well in the Canyon:



Remembering Keefer Flanner — 1932-2014

Keefer with his beloved 1965 Norton motorcycle.

What I know of his history was told to me by my Mom.

Uncle Keefer’s father, Keefer Flanner (Senior), was born in Kansas where he grew up on a farm. The family moved to Los Angeles when Keefer was five and his sister, Joan, was three.

His mother, Grace Edith Boving was born in Trenton, NJ to parents Paul and Petra Boving, who emigrated to Catalina from Denmark. They had two children, Keefer and Joan. Keefer served in the Navy during the Korean War.

Keefer went to Gompers Junior High School and Washington High School in Los Angeles. As a young man he got a job as a mechanic on Catalina Island and rented a room in the Boving’s home. Their daughter, Grace Boving, was living in LA and came to visit from the mainland. While there she met Keefer and they got married.


Remembering Keefer Flanner — 1932-2014

Keefer Flanner, age 10, at military school.

Friends and family always remembered Keefer as a fun-loving person, always joking and teasing his sister and mother. His sister remembered that he once offered their mother a short ride on his motorcycle one morning before going to work. She was still in her bathrobe. The bike was parked in the back of the house and he needed to back it up the length of the drive way to the front of the house. But once at the street he did not stop to let her off. Instead, he took her for a fast ride around the block, very embarrassing in her bathrobe.

My mother’s girlhood friend, Mary Ann Gomes, recently wrote that in her memory he is still 17 or 18 years old as Joan’s big brother driving a little car with the raised rear end. It was in the ‘50s when little hot rods and drive-in restaurants were where all the kids went. My mom would brag about his motorcycles and that he lifted weights and had lots of girlfriends.


Remembering Keefer Flanner — 1932-2014

A young Keefer Flanner with a bird.

Growing up, I remember that he was much more fun than the other adults in the family. He was always the last one to arrive at our house for Thanksgiving dinner. My grandmother was always so pleased to see him. As soon as he entered the door, the four of us would dog pile on him laughing and screaming. No doubt that was very annoying for the adults but was the highlight of the day for us.


Remembering Keefer Flanner — 1932-2014

Keefer Flanner in a dirt bike race.

After a few minutes of this chaos he would pull away from us and yell into the kitchen, “Joan! Come out here and get control of your kids. I can’t believe that you are raising them to behave this way!” We thought that was hysterical because, of course, we were not being raised that way. He was the instigator but my mom would fall for it and be upset and embarrassed.

When I was about seven or eight, I stopped participating in the dog pile routine and stayed in the kitchen to help with the cooking. I remember working at the kitchen sink with my back to him when he came in and sat at the kitchen table and said, “Well Miss Fibs, what are you up to”? There it was—he gave me a nickname that I hated but that pleased my brothers enormously. He was famous for awarding nicknames to people that seemed quite to the point. Eventually, I understood that by calling me “Miss Fibs” he meant to say that I should not take myself so seriously and stop being such a smarty pants older sister. That remains good advice to this day—don’t take things so seriously, life is too short, better to find things to laugh about.

When I was in college my brothers, a few friends and I went to the Ascot Park Speedway in Gardena. We must have had some free tickets. During the races we saw our uncle Keefer in the infield helping on a friend’s cars. After the races we made our way down there to visit him. He seemed surprised but pleased to see us and introduced us and showed us their cars. Later on, he called our mom to tell her how well behaved we had been.

Seriously, we were in high school and college and he still expected the dog pile routine? —Sharon Garten, Keefer’s only niece


Keefer Flanner was always smiling, loved to joke around and will always be well known for stirring the pot to say the least. He was a member of the infamous Table of Knowledge at Pat’s Topanga Grill. In the early 2000s, regulars Bruce Kates, Don Hamburger, Dennis King, Bill “Papa” Rhodes and Keefer would meet around 7 a.m. every weekday for breakfast and the grumpy group would solve all of the world’s problems.

Bill received his nickname from John Stehlin and Keefer always said: “Don’t call him that, it’s too nice.” Bill and Keefer were longtime buddies and when Bill was homebound Keefer and “The Doof” would come over for some cookies and a lot of laughs.

The Doof—My husband, Bill, and I gave Donna and Keefer a German Shorthair Pointer puppy named Zippy. Mickie Lee gave Zippy to Bill but we decided raising a puppy was too much at the time and gave her back. Keefer renamed her “The Doof.” Donna trained her and Keefer never let us forget that she was “the worst dog I have ever had, Rhodes.” Right. The Doof went to work with Keefer up until he sold his Pool and Spa business to Shawn Rhodes. Doof headed for heaven a short time before Keefer passed away and it broke his heart. She was his constant companion.

“Ruined Reputation”—For the 30th Messenger anniversary our creative photographer, Tony Verebes, put together a photo essay. Everyone who was photographed for the piece had to be doing something with the Messenger. Keefer was smoking the newspaper, and when we published it, he said, “You have ruined my reputation in the Canyon. I will never be the same, not to mention the fact that you also put this on the internet.” He actually loved the short-lived fame. Better than that, it was how he and his lovely lady, Linda, became reacquainted.

Keefer advertised his Pool and Spa business with the Messenger for more than 30 years. He was always critiquing each issue and giving me the real story of how the issue should have been. He was a faithful subscriber and a good friend. I’ll miss the cookie visits and his wonderful sense of humor. —Mary Colvig-Rhodes


Keefer and I were good friends from back in the days of “hanging out at Louie’s” to attending the Historical Races at Laguna Seca five years in a row.

He always was a fun guy and a welcome participant in all “good times.” Motorcycles and racing were his passions. We’d watch Formula One at 4:30 a.m. like it was the only thing to do. He was passionate about the dry lakes and we would travel out to that hot, windy “godforsaken place” to see these incredible home-made machines go “really fast.” For a while, we were the Breakfast Club at Pat’s [Topanga Grill] with about six other friends. Towards these later times he would call me every morning for a good BS session and lots of laughs. He was a prankster. I miss him terribly. He was my friend. —RD


I always stop at Fernwood Market around 12 noon for lunch. Keefer knew I would be there and he often stopped by to visit because he knew I would have something extra.

One day, he showed up late and I had already finished my lunch. When he pulled up on his bike, he asked what I had in my lunch pail for him. I told him all I had left was cookies. Keefer put his hand out and said he better try one. He took the cookie and I immediately started laughing. Halfway through eating his cookie he asked why I was laughing so hard. I finally let him know, it was a DOG cookie. He finished the cookie and then replied, "I'll get you back!" Keefer hated how I kept dog cookies with me to give to all the dogs on the pool route I bought from him. Keefer never did get me back. He was my friend. —Shawn Rhodes


Keefer was a sailor who served our country and Topanga's favorite pool man for many years. The neighborhood kids would gather at Keefer's to check out his cool cars and motorcycles, he mentored many kids and took us camping and racing all the time and showed us how to work on our cars.

He always welcomed everyone he loved. "Just stop by anytime. The door is always open,” he would say. Keefer loved wildlife and made his home a sanctuary to many wild animals. He fed hummingbirds, many species of wild birds, hawks, doves, squirrels, rabbits, coyote, deer and even bobcats.

­­For more than 40 years these animals counted on him for their water and a snack. I know they will miss him and so will I. —Gina Piciolo