September 10, 2002

William O'Keefe: Watching Daughters Run

One night at a club in Staten Island, two young men approached two young women. They paired off and chatted for a few minutes, until one of the men whispered to his friend that he wanted to switch partners. So they did. And that is how William O'Keefe met his wife, Ginny.

Never loud or aggressive, Captain O'Keefe was nevertheless assertive. (He was the one who wanted to switch partners.) He had a quiet way that served him well as a firefighter, and, later, an officer. "He wasn't a blowhard," Mrs. O'Keefe said. "He was never boastful. He was a gentleman."

The only thing Captain O'Keefe, 48 and in the best shape of his life, liked more than running was watching his daughters, Tara, 20, and Kaitlin, 17, compete at track meets. With his flexible schedule, he spent many days cheering them on. "He was proud of that. No regrets," Mrs. O'Keefe said. "He was a great father and a great husband. He was the best."