David Francis O'Keefe

October 10, 1942February 16, 2023
Obituary of David Francis O'Keefe
David Francis O’Keefe died in Houston on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, of complications from long Covid. He had recently celebrated his 80th birthday at a memorable gathering of family, friends, and his beloved bride, Ronica. He was born on Oct. 10, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York, the oldest child of Arthur Stephen David Gregory O’Keefe and Julia Anne O’Neill O’Keefe. Mr. O’Keefe studied at The London Oratory School, and graduated from Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York. After attending St. John’s in Baltimore and St. Michael’s in Toronto, he earned a degree in Management and Statistics from New York University. At the height of the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the United States Marines Corps Reserves, trained at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, and earned the title of United States Marine. After stints with Western Union in New York City and RCA in Montreal, he spent the majority of his career with the Southern Pacific Railroad: first, as a brakeman based in Sanderson, TX; and then as an auditor, after relocating to Houston. It was in the Bayou City that he met his bride-to-be, Ronica Lee. Naturally, it was at church. A deep faith united the couple, and they were married on Leap Day (February 29) 1992 at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. In the three decades that followed, Dave and Ronica were inseparable. They traveled regularly to Singapore, where David was warmly welcomed into Ronica’s family; to Canada; across the length and breadth of the United States; and to Ireland, where David reveled in his Irish heritage. A lifetime member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Mr. O’Keefe also served as society historian for the Irish Society of Houston. Irish history was one of many topics that drew his boundless curiosity. He was just as inclined to do a deep dive on Mayan linguistics as he was to make a pilgrimage to Dublin. In 2016, he and his good friend Lyn Brogan were honored for their service to the Irish Society at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at the Petroleum Club of Houston. Ronica’s many contributions to the Society were subsequently recognized when she was designated a Wild Irish Rose. This year, Mr. O’Keefe was one of two honorees at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Mr. O’Keefe’s parents and his sister Julie preceded him in death as did Ronica’s parents, her father Lee Lum Thye and her mother, Lum Swe Choy, and a preemie brother, Brendan. He is survived his sisters Marguerite (Gary Ampel), Rosemary (Robert Meadows), and Janet (Paul Lee), his brothers Stephen O’Keefe (Sandy) and Eric O’Keefe (Désirée), and many nieces and nephews. David and Ronica loved being uncle and aunt to Stephen and Sandy’s children — Brian O’Keefe (Michelle) and Erin Cochran (Cameron) — with whom they celebrated holidays, graduations, weddings, and, most recently, the birth of their great-nephew Sean Joseph Cochran just days after David’s 80th. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, March 16, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. at his spiritual home, St. Justin Martyr Parish, under the direction of Father Paul Chovanec. In lieu of flowers, Ronica asks donations to St. Justin Martyr Parish: Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the O'Keefe family.

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