Walter O’Keefe passed away peacefully on June 10, 2023, from natural causes at age 86. He is survived by his four children, Kelly, Kevin, Michael and Lynne and six grandchildren, Connor, Tristan, Ashley, Brianna, Kathryn and Mitchell.
Walter had fond memories of growing up in Brooklyn, playing on the streets with his friends, shooting marbles, playing stickball, and riding the subway. His life there sounded just like you see in any movie made about 1940s Brooklyn. He moved to Bloomfield, NJ, for his high school years but spent summers working with his father as an elevator operator in the Empire State Building and selling souvenirs on the observation floor. After work, they would end up in an Irish bar where they enjoyed laughs and singing old Irish songs with the other patrons.
Walter went on to get a degree in aerospace engineering from Notre Dame University. “Go Irish” After college, he enlisted for a three-year term in the Army National Guard, where he became a Marksman with the M1 rifle and an expert with the BAR automatic rifle. Walter spent the majority of his professional career working for the U.S. military at Picatinny Arsenal, where he contributed to the design of the Patriot missile system and was awarded two patents!
That being said, Walter’s legacy is defined by his love and devotion to his family. He was a loving husband to his wife, Frances, for 45 years until her passing in 2008. His devotion and generosity to his children was tested repeatedly and was met each time with kindness and empathy; there was nothing he wouldn’t do to ensure the health, happiness, and success of his family. Along with his love for family, he also had a passion for dogs, and top on his list was the Samoyed breed and specifically Snowball!
Walter was also a model train enthusiast, spending countless hours building a Lionel layout in his home with the help of his good friend Tony. The layout extended through two rooms of the house. There were many different neighborhoods with streetlights and operating details in every corner. It was truly an incredible sight to see!
In his last few years, Walter began routinely reading the obituaries looking for any familiar names. He would truly get inspired and be in awe of some of the interesting, full, and rewarding lives he read about and wondered what could be written about him. Well, as you can see from this writing, he, too, had an interesting, full and rewarding life. He will truly be missed by all who loved him.
A memorial service will be held June 21, 2023 at 12:30 pm at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 60 Byrd Avenue, Bloomfield, NJ.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that charitable donations be made in Walter’s memory to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Shriners Children’s Hospital.