Phillip Keiser, age 60, of Sauk City passed away from natural causes, Saturday, October 15, 2016 at his home.
He was born October 17, 1955 in Nappanee, Indiana, the son of Roger and Thyra (Snider) Keiser. He had a deep appreciation for his rural roots and how that contributed to the hardworking, humble man he was.
Phil attended Northwood High School in Nappanee and graduated from Manchester College. He spent his life working in the restaurant industry most recently as president and CEO of Culver Franchising System, Inc. in Prairie du Sac, WI.
Phil had over 35 years of food industry and strategic restaurant management experience. He brought drive, focus and youthful sense of humor to the office every day. He joined the Culver’s organization in 1996 holding several other positions including director of operations, vice president of operations and president and chief operating officer. Phil was named president and CEO in 2015. Prior to joining Culver’s, he held various management positions with Burger Chef and Hardee’s.
Phil was a driving force in the development and expansion of the Culver’s organization. With well-known phrases like “keep the main thing the main thing,” Phil grew the system from 44 restaurants in 1996 to its current size of over 580 restaurants in 24 states. Additionally, the restaurant support team has grown from 14 to over 100 team members.
Affectionately called “Farmer Phil,” he had a passion for agriculture, Culver’s Thank You Farmers program, tinkering in his yard and John Deere tractors. He was constantly trying to educate himself and the Culver’s team to better understand the supply chain that feeds the millions that come to Culver’s every year – so in turn, Culver’s could better educate their guests.
A strong advocate of education and community involvement, Phil was a member of the Manchester University Board of Trustees, the Sauk Prairie Health Care Board of Directors, and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Board of Directors.
Phil had a deep level of respect, love and pride for his family. You couldn’t leave an interaction with him without hearing at least one of them mentioned. It was clear to everyone who knew him that Betsy’s partnership and support was deeply felt and appreciated by him. Phil is survived by his loving wife of 39 years, Betsy (Best); their three children Nathan (Bethany), Nicholas (Maria), and Kelsey; four grandchildren, Caprina, Linea, Landon, and Harper; his mother, Thyra; his brother Dann (Lynn) Keiser; mother-in-law, Maryellen Best; brother-in-law, Randy (Karen) Best; sisters-in-law, Cyndi Heckaman, Cathy Stuntz; and many loving nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father, Roger, and father-in-law Richard Best.
Visitation will be held Friday October 21 from 1 to 7 p.m. at Graceway Church in Prairie du Sac, WI. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 22 at the River Arts Center in Prairie du Sac, WI. With Phil’s passion for the agricultural community, in lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Heifer International or FFA National Foundation.