Alumni-Parent Profile: Bob O’Keefe ’55, P’84

Submitted by Virginia Weir, Assistant Director of Advancement Communications on October 15, 2013

Both Maureen and I have benefited from a Catholic education in our own time, and we want to help assist others who are subject to enormous Catholic education costs in current times. As such, we contribute to all levels of Catholic education in the form of endowed scholarships.

Bob ’55 and Maureen O’Keefe, P’84

Why Fairfield

As a graduate of Fairfield Prep, Fairfield University was an easy choice for me because of my experience with Jesuit teaching. Both Prep and Fairfield University were staffed almost exclusively with Jesuits. In the 1950s, tuition was $300 per year and all students lived at home.

Our son Patrick (Class of 1984) followed a similar path at Prep and Fairfield University, and benefited greatly from the availability of Jesuit staffing and the camaraderie of his rugby teammates. Our daughter-in-law Karen (also Class of 1984) chose Fairfield from her list of college acceptances because it was a good fit for her career desires. Kristin is the first of the grandchildren to enter Fairfield and is delighted with her choice. We are looking forward to a few more entrants from the family!

The Family Business

I worked in research and new product development for 18 years at several companies. Maureen worked at two hospitals before becoming a full-time mom. In 1975, we established O’Keefe Controls Co, initially as a local distributor of fluid control products. Over time new products were developed which are sold nationally and in twenty foreign countries. Patrick, Karen, John, and Mary are important contributors to the operation and success of the business. Kristin and several other grandchildren work there in the summer time. Maureen and I are still working in the family business.

an Influential Jesuit

I signed up as a math major at Fairfield and was surprised that Latin was a required subject in the bachelor’s math curriculum. Having completed four years of Latin and two of Homeric Greek I was not anxious for additional classic language studies. Rev. George Mahan, S.J., guided me into a BS Physics study program. It seemed exciting since I had never had a science course at Prep. Physics, chemistry, math, and basketball proved to be more than challenging, and hitchhiking 15 miles home after basketball practice did not help the situation. Studies worked out nicely in my sophomore year and beyond without basketball and with the acquisition of an automobile.

What I Learned at Fairfield

The fundamentals which I learned at Prep and Fairfield U were of great value to me in my life experiences. A strong dose of language, history, logic and philosophy, mathematics, science fundamentals and religion have served me well. I recommend this prescription to others today.

Why Donate?

Both Maureen and I have benefited from a Catholic education in our own time, and we want to help assist others who are subject to enormous Catholic education costs in current times. As such, we contribute to all levels of Catholic education in the form of endowed scholarships.

The ROMEOs

ROMEOs is an acronym for “Retired Old Men Eating Out”. After the 50th Reunion of the Class of ’55, some of us began a monthly get-together for lunch. The graduating class numbered less than 100 students; today’s survivors number about 60. To date, 28 have attended at one time or another and average attendance is 12.

About the Family

We have three children and nine grandchildren. Our daughter Mary, University of Vermont ’82 BS and RPI MS is married to John Butala US Naval Academy ’81 and RPI MS; retired USN Submarine Commander during the “Cold War”. Son Patrick, Fairfield U BS ’84, UConn MS ’86 is married to Karen Occhipinti, Fairfield U ’84. Son Joseph, Colorado State U ’92 is married to Wendy Campbell, Colorado State U ’92. There are 9 grandchildren all of whom are attending or have attended Catholic grammar schools and Catholic high schools. The majority will have attended Catholic universities.

PHOTO: The O’Keefe family at a recent picnic (left group, l-r): Caitlin Butala, John Butala, Noreen Butala, Mary O’Keefe Butala, Timothy Butala, Joseph O’Keefe, Jeremiah “Jack” O’Keefe, Wendy O’Keefe, Loretta O’Keefe. (Right group, l-r): Maureen O’Keefe, Robby O’Keefe, Bob O’Keefe, Kristin O’Keefe, Karen O’Keefe, Patrick O’Keefe, and Sean O’Keefe.  “The significance of the Good Humor truck relates to Bob’s summer job in 1955, when ice cream sticks were only 15 cents.”

BobOKeefe Photo

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