In Memoriam: A Farewell to Advertising Professor Keith Adler

This summer the ComArtSci community lost one of its own. Keith Adler taught in the advertising department for 35 years. He was a beloved faculty member, teacher, and mentor to many. Below, we share his obituary.

Reposted from the Traverse City Record Eagle.

Keith Eugene Adler was a bright light in the lives of all who knew him. He died much too soon on June 23, 2021.

Keith was born to Raymond and Marion (Blair) Adler in Battle Creek in 1945. As the oldest of four children, his younger siblings, Elaine, Richard and Janet looked to Keith for the guidance only a big brother can give. He was always there for them at a moment's notice.

Keith attended a rural one-room schoolhouse through his elementary years that laid the foundation for his years of scholarly work ahead. Keith earned a bachelor's and master's degree in horticulture. As his interests changed, Keith returned to school to earn another master's degree and a doctorate in communications from Michigan State University.

He was a Spartan through and through. Keith went on to teach for 35 years as a professor in the advertising department at MSU. He pioneered remote learning for the department before online internet courses existed. His course, Principles of Advertising, was pre-taped and widely available through the MSU library and public access television. Keith reached thousands of undergraduate students. Known for his theatrics, Keith could be seen in a wild clown suit or giant glasses to get a point across. Keith's first interest was for his students and their learning. During his tenure, he was also director of graduate studies, mentoring hundreds of students and building lifelong friendships.

Keith met the love of his life, Carol Steinberger, when Carol was teaching elementary special education in Battle Creek. They were married in 1973. Their 47-year marriage was strong, supportive and loving. They were both at their best because of each other.

Keith was many things to many people. He was a gentle, kind and generous soul. Keith was always willing to share all he had, everything from baked goods to books. Keith gave selflessly, sharing his expertise and experiences, enriching the lives of others. Keith was a loving person. When dear friends faced devastating illness, Keith was by their side spending time, listening, playing cards, going for walks and offering compassion. Keith was always positive and able to smile through tough times.

One of Keith's outstanding qualities was his enduring curiosity. He was self-taught in many areas. He found passions for photography, baking and cooking, antique restoration, gardening, all things technological and gadgetry. Keith was everyone's go-to "IT guy" long before it was a thing and he loved to share that knowledge with anyone who had an interest. He was truly a Renaissance man, and everyone who knew Keith benefited from his generous spirit.

Keith fully enjoyed his retirement years. He spent time golfing with friends, always trying to perfect his game. He rediscovered his cornet after a 50 year hiatus. But most of all he and Carol loved their up north life on the lake. Together they hiked and spent time in the outdoors, and mostly loved spending time with family and friends.

Keith's passing leaves a gaping hole in those who knew him. He is survived by his wife, Carol Adler; sisters, Elaine (Ted) Joy and Janet Peckham; brother, Richard (Kathy) Adler; and sisters-in-law, Susan (Bill) Brown, Eileen Steinberger (Don Ross) and Laura (Bob) Otwell. Keith will be dearly missed and kept in the hearts of all of his many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

The family is being served by Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home. A celebration of Keith's life will take place at a later date. Please share a memory with Keith's family by visiting his tribute page at

Contributions in Keith's memory may be made to Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Norte, American Diabetes Association or a charity of your choice.