Arthur Thomas Keefe III – Words of Remembrance
By Ryan Keefe
In my eyes, Dad was the life of every party. Dad carried an unstoppable, joyful spirit that he just had to share with others. He loved connecting with everyone he met from all walks of life.
Dad was a man of deep Catholic faith, and this faith was the cornerstone of his life. Dad had an unshakeable belief in the power of prayer and in trusting God. Dad emphasized that all that we do should be in service to the Lord, through our love, kindness, and service to others. To give and not to count the cost.
Next to faith, family meant everything to Dad. Dad absolutely loved regaling us with Keefe and Bernard family stories, and he so enjoyed keeping current on family goings-on.
And in terms of family, Dad’s love of Lori, Mom, was without end. Mom was his best friend, confidant, advocate, and the person who had the best chance of overcoming Dad’s only occasional stubbornness. She was the wind that filled his sails.
So many times over the years, Dad would tell Garrett and me that the best way to help him out, the best way to make him happiest, was for us to “take care of your mother, make her happy.” Dad always tried to lead by example on that front, despite somehow getting away with never actually proposing to Mom.
For anniversaries, birthdays, or Valentine’s Day, Mom would repeatedly tell Dad, “Don’t get me anything, don’t buy anything.” Invariably, Dad wouldn’t listen to her — he memorized his credit card info and would order flowers delivered to the house. Mom’s reaction was the same just about every time: “What would you do that for, what are you, crazy?” And then she would place the flowers front and center in the house and tell people what Dad did for her, happy and proud.
Dad’s love, intellect, kindness, wisdom, and humor were a constant source of joy and strength. Dad had an unbelievable competitive streak to him, and he expected Garrett and me to be the best versions of ourselves in everything we did, in the face of every challenge. Dad always wanted us to take the high road. But while trying to find that high road, I got such a kick out of the many “Dad-isms”, the quintessential “Art Keefe-isms” that he shared along the way. A small sampling:
- One time, when I was embarrassed with how loudly Dad was singing in this very Church, I whispered to him, “Can you not sing so loudly? People are staring.” Dad gave me a brief look, long enough to let me know he heard me, and immediately started singing even louder.
- When I was about 5 or 6 years old, after I had been put to bed, Dad went into the family room to play Nintendo. When Mom asked what he was doing, he said, “Ryan got a new high score. I have to beat it.”
- In the mornings, he’d wake up Garrett and me by bellowing out: “Rise and shine. Time to motivate.”
- And one of my favorites: “Have an attitude of gratitude in everything you do.”
I loved talking about everything with Dad — tv, politics, sports, work, anything. I loved telling him my stories and listening to his own. I went to him for everything.
Dad and I would often listen to music together; when he was in the hospital last week, I wanted to play some music for him. I asked Mom, “What’s one of Dad’s absolute favorite songs from when you were dating or newlyweds?” Without missing a beat, she said, “Oh, ‘New York, New York,’ that’s our wedding song, he loves it. But don’t play it for him, it could be too emotional for him.”
Well, just like Dad, sometimes I don’t quite listen to Mom so well. So when I was at Dad’s bedside during his last morning with us, ‘New York, New York’ started revving up on my phone. What did Dad do? He immediately went into full Broadway mode, mouthing out the lyrics, giving it everything he’s got. And in that quintessential Art Keefe/Dad way that we all know, of course he just had to hold that final note with a smile on his face.
Dad, you were the rock upon which I built my life. You will continue to be that rock until we see each other again.
So, Dad, may you have fair winds and following seas as you sail to those heavenly shores. Try not to laugh too hard when you check in on us. We love you always and forever.
PERSONAL NOTE FROM LORI KEEFE- (Art Keefe’s wife )
Dear Yale ’75 Class,
How I wanted to thank all of you for reaching out to me either via text, email, or US Mail — in Art’s memory!!! Your support means the world to me!! And, how I appreciated listening to, or reading about all the “Art” stories you shared, as you all knew him before I did! They brought me great comfort and made me smile for sure.
BTW, not sure you knew the story of how we met: I was born and raised in Hamden, CT and one summer, decided to take a fund raising job at the “Campaign For Yale”; Art was working then as a Director for the Campaign! And the rest is history. Married in New Haven, CT 40 years ago (didn’t make 41- anniversary upcoming 8/7); then moved to MD. My extended family (cousins; Aunts & Uncles) are all in CT; I hope to be visiting them in Sept and will wave to Yale when off the Exit ! Chuckle.
–And, know too that the joke always between Art and me: “I was a CT Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” !
Again, to all of you, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks for your expressions of sympathy and beautiful stories! Additionally, please also know that should your travels ever take you near the DC/ MD/ VA area, don’t hesitate to ping me, to meet with you to raise a glass to Art! For those classmates already local, I do plan to be back in touch when my schedule settles down a bit (and thank you for providing me your contact information).
And, one final memory I wanted to share: On the day of Art’s Funeral Service, after the Service, I hosted a small reception at the nearby Congressional Country Club to honor Art. The room we were in had an adjoining terrace, overlooking the Club’s beautiful grounds and golf course. For Washington weather, the day wasn’t too hot (just sunny and very windy!). Folks wandered outside to see the view. I grabbed a glass of wine and stepped outside myself to look, and exhale a bit! A dear friend then approached me to check on me. He commented on how windy the weather was, and how perhaps it was bit of a challenge for the golfers. And I replied: “However, it is Indeed the Most Perfect Weather for Sailors!”
An absolutely perfect send-off for Art! And, with that, we clinked our glasses to Art’s Smooth Sailing into the Heavens!
My BEST And THANKS to All of you !
Lori Keefe (Art Keefe’s wife !)
9017 Willow Valley Dr.
Potomac, MD. 20854
(personal cell: 240-506-6847).