July 12th, 2017
William “Bill” O’Keefe
William “Bill” O’Keefe, Jan 29, 1931 - Jun 29, 2017.
William Moran O’Keefe, 86, of Great Falls, passed away at home just before sunrise on June 29, 2017. Anyone who knew Bill, knew it was his habit to watch the sunrise outside his window every morning, as he loved that quiet “morning” time. A blessing, then, to part with this world in this manner.
Born to Remy and Frances O’Keefe on January 29, 1931 in Missoula, Bill spent his early childhood in Maxville where his love for all things Montana and all things Irish were fostered and deeply rooted.
After his father’s death in 1938, the family moved to Deer Lodge where Bill graduated in 1948. Bill then spent four years in the US Army serving in Germany. Upon his return from duty he met the love of his life, Sylvia Ann Ingraham, and they married August 13, 1953. Rare were the times spent apart and in his last months of battling lung cancer, Sylvia tended to him around the clock, with family and their loyal dog, Roadey, constantly by his side.
Early in his career he became a welder for Montana Power Company (MPC), moving his family first to Cut Bank and then to Butte before finally settling at Rainbow Dam downstream from Great Falls. Bill’s genius did not go unnoticed and soon his rise within the company was fostered by all those who encountered his analytical and inquiring mind. Before retiring January 29, 1996, he had become Superintendent of Hydro II, in charge of all MPC dams in Montana. He was known during his career of being a family man and an unselfish man of his time and knowledge. Bill had a deep interest in technology, which was a great asset to all, as was his passion for his work.
Bill and Sylvia enjoyed touring Ireland and visiting the O’Keefe homestead. They also enjoyed traveling on their Gold Wing across the western United States and Canada. Photography, Montana history, family history and Irish history kept him active and engaged all his life. These interests naturally led to his involvement for many years in the Sons and Daughters of the Montana Pioneers. He especially loved to participate in the Bell Ringing Ceremony to honor the Montana History Teacher of the Year at the Capital each November 8, the anniversary of Montana’s Statehood. Bill was most proud of his heritage by being a direct descendant of one of Montana’s first pioneers. Bill’s love for history came full circle when he became engaged in the development of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
Although Bill passed away from lung cancer, he spent more than five years with dementia and fibrosis of the lungs after having survived throat cancer.
Bill is survived by his loving wife, Sylvia; their five children, Mike (Liz) of Butte, Pat of Great Falls, Sherry Faber of Billings, Mary (Rex) Streets of Billings, and Ray (Lourdes) of Vernon, Fla.; six grandchildren Jason (Renee), Justin, Kelsey and Conner O’Keefe, Will (Caitlyn) Faber and Beth (Trey) Gregg; great-grandsons Greyden and Kasen O’Keefe and his soon-to-be namesake, Liam Faber; sister, Barb (Jim) Beck Weis of Helena; and dozens of nieces and nephews, whose lives were carefully recorded on the family tree Bill kept in precise detail, the work and legacy of which has been enjoyed by many family members.
He was preceded in death by his father, Remy; his mother, Frances; siblings Emmett, Edward, Donald, Daniel, Robert John (Pat) O’Keefe, and Gloria Corcoran; and niece Shelley O’Keefe.
A memorial service was Thursday, July 6 at 2 p.m. at Hillcrest Lawn Memorial Chapel, 1410 15th Street S. Burial of ashes followed with full military honors at Highland Cemetery. Schnider Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
The family would like to thank the wonderful people at Great Falls Clinic Hospital, Grandview facility, and Peace Hospice for their excellent care and dedication.
In lieu of flowers, please consider Peace Hospice, Shriners Hospital for Children, Children’s Receiving Home of Great Falls or any charity of your choice for donations.
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