James E. Keefe, 85, Woodstock, died Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017.
He was born Jan. 13, 1932, to James H. Keefe and Florence M. (Cooney) Keefe in Chicago.
They moved to Woodstock in 1938. He attended St. Mary School in Woodstock through ninth grade, followed by St. Mary’s Seminary School, Crystal Lake, where he had planned to become a priest. He attended college at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa. During his sophomore year of college, he was drafted, serving stateside in the U.S. Army as a military policeman during the Korean War.
He returned to college after being discharged to graduate from St. Ambrose in 1957. Two weeks following his college graduation he married Mary Ellen Burmeister at St. Mary Catholic Church, Woodstock. He was an active member of St. Mary’s throughout his life and a Knight of the Roman Catholic Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
He worked as an insurance agent for more than 43 years, working for Country Companies Insurance for 38 of those years. He was a charter member of the Woodstock Rotary Club, serving as vice-president when the club was founded in 1968. He later served as club president and in many other roles, with a record of more than 49 years of perfect attendance at Rotary meetings. He was a Paul Harris fellow. He was elected to the Woodstock City Council in 1969, serving two terms, in addition to serving on the Police & Fire Commission and the Woodstock Library Board. He was presented with the Buschkopf Award for community service in 2002. He was also a longtime member of the McHenry County Civil War Roundtable, serving as treasurer. He was a past member of the Woodstock Jaycees, Lions Club and Elks Club and served on the Memorial Hospital Board.
He loved history and was well-known for his “History of Woodstock” slide presentation which he gave to many groups over the years. He was an avid photographer who loved to travel and document his trips. He traveled all over the world with his wife before her death in 2002, attending “make up” Rotary meetings and Mass wherever they happened to be.
Survivors include his children, Kelly (Mark) Afeld, Erin (Steve Walters) Anderegg, Patrick (Katherine) Keefe and Quinn Keefe; grandchildren, Kendra (Patrick) Johnson, Trevor (Grace) Schacht, Greta (Zachary) Walters, Lauren (David Phu) Keefe, Bridget (Ara Pardini) Afeld, Hanna Schacht, Joseph Keefe, Hailey Keefe and Katelyn Keefe; a great-grandchild, Ella Schacht; a sister, Jane (Robert) Larson; brothers-in-law, Henry (Kay) Burmeister and Thomas (Sally) Burmeister; a sister-in-law, Kathleen (Robert) Hemsen; many nieces and nephews; and numerous Rotary Exchange students from all parts of the world who were hosted by Jim and Mary Ellen throughout the years.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; a granddaughter, Sara Schacht; and a son-in-law, Richard Anderegg.
Visitation was Nov. 26, at Schneider, Leucht, Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home, Woodstock. The funeral Mass was Nov. 27, was at St. Mary Catholic Church, Woodstock. Interment at Calvary Cemetery, Woodstock.
Memorials can be made in to the Woodstock Rotary Christmas Clearinghouse or JourneyCare Hospice Foundation.