Bennington, Vermont – Jack was a friend to everyone he met.
He was born in Klamath Falls, Oregon January 27, 1922. In 1942 He married his high school sweetheart, Norma Jean Hotchkiss. They began a life of adventure together that lasted 61 years until her death in 2003.
As newlyweds Jack and Norma lived in Tule Lake, Oregon in a house so small the front door wouldn’t open when the Murphy bed was down. When Jack enlisted in the Navy Sea Bees during WWII his wife went to Reno, NV to live with her parents. Jack was sent to the South Pacific to Tarawa Island. In 1945 he returned to Reno to reunite with his wife and meet his son, Richard Jack, who was born while he was overseas. Soon after they had a daughter, Leslie Jean.
Both Jack and Norma were direct descendants of pioneers (Jack’s the Oregon Trail and Norma’s the Kansas land grant) so they too followed their dreams and lived and worked in many towns and cities in Nevada, Oregon, California, and lastly, Bennington, VT.
As a young man Jack worked as an appraiser for a bank in Nevada, appraising everything from homes to large cattle ranches. Later in life he managed utility districts. But his true love and talent was in the building trades. He built custom homes, custom cabinets, and furniture. He was an artisan and craftsman who could design, engineer, and build just about anything. He even built or remodeled all seven of the houses he and his wife owned and lived in. He was designing and creating wood furniture, shelves, and cabinets up until his late 90’s. Many friends and relatives are the recipients of his handcrafted furniture and cabinets.
In retirement Jack and his wife were antique dealers in Oregon. They became very knowledgeable and were successful in the business. In 1998 they moved to Bennington to help their daughter and her husband start a family owned and operated antique mall in Pownal Vermont, the Century Barn.
After his wife’s death in 2003, Jack spent his time volunteering. He participated in Bennington Lion’s Club events and activities, started a “woodworking” program at BPI, was on the board of CDC building trades program, and helped with Habitat for Humanity. But his greatest joy in volunteering came from being a Hospice volunteer. Over a fourteen-year period he spent hundreds of hours visiting clients, learning about their histories and lives or just holding their hands – whatever was needed.
Jack is predeceased by his wife Norma, his identical twin sisters, Dorothy and Beverly, and his son Richard Jack O’Keefe. He is survived by his daughter and her husband, Leslie and John Resio, his daughter-in-law, Ruth O’Keefe, three grandchildren, six great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
Jack’s family would like to thank the caring, wonderful staff at the VA clinic in Bennington for helping Jack stay independent the last few years of his life and the VNA Hospice nurses and staff for compassionate care the last week of his life. They were all more than caregivers, they were his friends.
Donations in Jack’s name can be given to VNA Hospice c/o Hanson Walbridge & Shea Funeral Home, PO Box 957 Bennington, VT 05201