July 3, 2002
JOHN JOSEPH O’KEEFE JR.
“FINISHED WITH ENGINES.” John Joseph O’Keefe Jr., 85, died Tuesday, July 2, 2002. Born in Phoebus on October 30, 1916, he was a lifelong resident of Hampton.
Mr. O’Keefe served in the U.S. Army from July 7, 1942, until Dec. 24, 1944. He was released from the Army after serving overseas from Jan. 1943 until Oct. 1944, to serve in the Merchant Marine and spent the remainder of the war at sea. He went to work at the Langley Field Fire Dept. from Oct. 1945 until Oct. 1946. Returning to sea in Dec. 1947, he served as Engineer on merchant ships until Nov. 1972 when he retired as Chief Engineer.
He had been appointed Engineer on the SS Savannah, the only nuclear powered merchant ship built. After service on the Savannah he returned to conventional ships and served as Chief Engineer for the remainder of his sea going career. He was a member of both the Marine Engineers Beneficiary Assoc. and the American Legion Phoebus Post 48.
Mr. O’Keefe was preceded in death by his parents, John J. O’Keefe and Mary F. O’Keefe, sisters, Mary O’Keefe Wheatley, Nellie O’Keefe Edwards and Sarah J. O’Keefe, sons, John J. O’Keefe III and Michael J. O’Keefe. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Isabel Earhart O’Keefe; sons, Patrick A. O’Keefe and wife, Karen, and Robert D. O’Keefe and wife, Sharon; sister, Nora Hensley; four grandchildren and four great- grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends Friday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at R. Hayden Smith Funeral Home. John will take his final voyage on Saturday to Oakland Cemetery where a graveside service will be held at 10 a.m.