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A Fremont woman who wrote novels and for television has died.

Lorraine "Margaret" Keilstrup died Sunday at her home.

She was 66.

Using the name of M.K. Lorens and Margaret Lawrence, the local woman wrote a mystery series and also historical fiction books.

Keilstrup graduated valedictorian from Fremont High School and then summa cum laude from Midland Lutheran College, now Midland University, in 1967.

"We met in college. We were both English majors and took German classes together," said longtime friend Ann Wilhite of Fremont. "When I was a freshman, Margaret and I were the only two women students who didn't go to sorority teas.

"She heard a different drummer and so did I," Wilhite continued. "In that way, we shared the same spirit."

Keilstrup was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. She earned a master of arts and doctorate degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She taught there for several years and also in Fort Hays, Kan.

She won several writing competitions and then had plays produced at the Omaha Playhouse and on Nebraska-ETV, Wilhite said.

Keilstrup gave up teaching to pursue a writing career in New York City. Her plays were produced by the Hudson Guild and the New York Shakespeare Festival and she was a finalist for the Blackburn Prize in drama.

She wrote scripts for CBS-Universal Studios, notably for "The Equalizer" television series. The episode, "Riding the Elephant," received a superb rating on

Keilstrup returned to Fremont to care for ailing family members.

"One of the most important things in her life, next to her writing, was her family," said one of her cousins, Kathleen Riggle of Omaha.

The writer lived the remainder of her life in her ancestral home, which is more than 120 years old.

After returning to Fremont, she focused on writing novels. Under the name M.K. Lorens, she wrote a five-book mystery series for Avon. Those books, published in the early 1990s, included: "Ropedancers Fall" and "Sorrowheart."

Keilstrup wrote five novels of historical and literary fiction for Random House under the name Margaret Lawrence.

"She was a very thorough researcher and spent months gathering the background material for her books," Wilhite said.

Her sixth novel, "Hearts and Bones," and three subsequent books were reprinted in Britain by Macmillan and translated for publication in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic and Japan, Wilhite said. She was a finalist for the Edgar, Agatha and Anthony awards. She also published poems and short stories.

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Those close to Keilstrup remember her intelligence and abilities. Riggle said her cousin was a deep thinker and a multi-talented person.

"She's probably the most brilliant person I've ever known," Wilhite said, adding that not only was Keilstrup gifted with the English language, she also was fluent in Danish, German, Spanish and French. "She was also so talented in an artistic way. She had a beautiful singing voice. She could play the piano. She composed some folk songs. She excelled in needlework. She did all kinds of quilting."

Her flower garden included her grandmother's roses and poppies first planted from seeds brought from Flanders Field after World War I.

Wilhite described her friend as a private person, but also a very caring individual.

"She was always there, someone I could talk to if I needed to - and vice versa," Wilhite said. "She had a wonderful sense of humor and a very keen wit."

Riggle also recalled her cousin's compassion.

"She cared about people and many times she helped with different projects, but nobody knew she was the one who was helping. She'd do it quietly," Riggle said.

At the time of her death, Keilstrup was talking with a California production company about a cable-television version of "Hearts and Bones" and a film script based on the friendship between Leonard Bernstein and D.H. Lawrence's widow. She also had a completed novel set in Elizabethan England and another set in the 1840s in what would become Nebraska territory, Wilhite said.

A memorial service is planned at a later date. Moser Memorial Chapel is in charge of arrangements.


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