"Mother had a good long life and was still lucid a couple weeks ago, and even had a good laugh about a dream she had had," Garrison Keillor wrote in the release. "She died in the house Dad built in 1947, with her children around her holding her hand and singing hymns."
Grace Denham, one of 13 children of Scottish immigrants, was born in Minneapolis in 1915. She grew up on Longfellow Avenue in the Powderhorn neighborhood, attended Roosevelt High School, trained as a nurse and went to work at the former Eitel Hospital in Minneapolis.
She was married in 1936 to John Keillor, who had courted her by singing hymns with the word "grace" in the title, the news release said. They attended the Grace & Truth Gospel Hall on 14th Avenue S. John went in the Army in 1942 and Grace and her three children lived with various relatives in St. Paul, Bettendorf, Iowa, and Anoka.
"Throughout her life, when adversity hit, my mother was strong, determined and persevering," her daughter Linda Berg of Minneapolis said in the news release. "She did what had to be done -- whether it was selling cookies door to door during the Depression, learning how to plant a garden or caring for a very sick husband. Besides her sense of fun and her love of family, what sustained Grace through good times and bad was her unwavering faith in Jesus Christ. ... She loved having children. And when times were tough, she sheltered us from the fact that we were living life sometimes at the very edge. When John suffered a severe concussion after falling off a barn roof and when he battled spinal meningitis and some of her younger children had to move in with relatives, she painted it all as if it was going to be an adventure."
After her husband's service in World War II, he bought an acre of cornfield in Brooklyn Park, a stone's throw from the Mississippi, and built a white frame house on it. They raised six children in that house.
John Keillor died in 2001, after 65 years of marriage. Grace lived on in the house, entertaining her family, playing Scrabble, reading, singing hymns and praying for her loved ones, her children said.
In addition to Garrison and Linda, she is survived by another daughter, Judith Locke of Greenville, S.C.; two other sons, Steven of Askov, Minn., and Stanley of Mendota Heights; 14 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. One son, John Philip Jr., preceded her in death.
Services will be private.