Gene's great grandfather, James, came to Columbia County from County Sligo, Ireland in 1881, and immediately went to work in Hudson's Evans Brewery. Later, he and Gene's grandfather, Frank Keeler, became dairy farmers and moved to Spook Rock Road in Greenport. Gene's father, James, also became a dairy farmer as well as a local funeral director, with that business on East Allen Street, Hudson. His mother, Mary, came from Utica and was a dietician before raising her family.
Gene attended schools in the Hudson City School District and St. Mary's Academy. He was an altar boy, Eagle Scout, and a school athlete. He then earned a BA in History at St. Lawrence University, a Masters in Social Work from the University of Tennessee, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Memphis.
Gene Keeler has been in public service for over 40 years: as District Attorney, as Public Defender, and then as Director of Legal and Advocacy Services at COARC. In the latter position, Gene was an advocate for individuals with mental, physical, and psychiatric issues and their families in a social work and legal framework. He has since served as a social worker at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility and is currently Director of the Impaired Driver Program for the Hudson-Mohawk Recovery Center in Troy.