September 14, 1927 – January 11, 2020
John Keefe was born at Hospital Point on the Southside of Francois Lake on September 14, 1927. John was the 5th of 6 living children born to Francois Lake pioneers, John and Alice Keefe. The Keefe family owned and operated a ranch, hotel, general store and sawmill in the early 1900’s just east of today’s Keefe’s Landing Park. John’s family moved to the Northside of Francois Lake in 1937. They took over Jake Henkel’s farm on the hill overlooking the Ferry Landing. John had a close relationship with Jake as a grandfather, friend and mentor.
Sports and motorcycles were a big part of John’s youth. Baseball, skiing, badminton, curling, and fishing were prominent with many continuing well into his senior years. The motorcycle was parked after a close call that cost him his teeth.
As a young man, just starting his career with the Forest Service, John was working in Burns Lake when he met the love of his life, Eunice Patterson. They were married December 15, 1951 in Eunice’s hometown of St. John New Brunswick. After the wedding, a short but colourful assignment in Bella Coola was full of adventure including a horseback honeymoon with the survey crew on “the hill”. Next was a temporary move to Vancouver for John to attend Ranger School. Upon graduation, they were stationed in Terrace, then Hixon, followed by Houston and finally Prince George where they resided for over 20 years. John and Eunice had four daughters between 1953 and 1960.
In 1972, John left the BC Forest Service and began teaching in the Forest Technology diploma program at the College of New Caledonia (CNC). While at CNC, he completed a diploma in Public Administration from the University of Victoria, and a teaching certificate through UBC/BC College of Teachers. To this day former students reach out and comment on the impact John made in their lives.
John and Eunice purchased a small 58 acre property on Francois Lake in 1958, and this property was a second home to their family. John retired in 1982 and they moved from Prince George to “the lake” where he lived out his dream of rebuilding their summer home and the endless aspects of working a small hobby farm. The lake property continued to be a special place for their 11 grandchildren who loved nothing more than visiting nana and grandpa there. Eunice passed away in 2005 creating a huge loss to John and the rest of his family. John continued to live at Francois Lake until 2015, when he moved into assisted living in Burns Lake. He passed away on January 11, 2020 at 92 years of age.
John has been described by some as a “cat with 9 lives” and it is true that his life had many adventures with events that were or could have been near death experiences. As a family, we knew him to be somewhat shy, independent, resourceful, a “Jack of All Trades”, but also as a father who adored our mother and had a love of family that sustained him.
John is survived by his 4 daughters and 11 grandchildren; Jocelyn (Mike), Ingrid & Hayley; Diane (Fred), Jake, Luke, Bonnie; Barbara (Doug), Alexandra, Elizabeth, Gillian; and Ingrid (Tim), Lauren, Kate, Tommy; 11 great grandchildren (Arla, Emmet, Norah, Heath, Jane, Flint, Sienna, Iris, Cea, Milo & Esme); his sister Virginia O’Meara, his brother Ralph Keefe, and many nieces and nephews.
John was predeceased by his wife Eunice and his sisters Marion Mummery, Edith Bond and Josephine Neave.
John, Uncle John, dad, grandpa you are missed and remembered with much love!
A memorial service will be held at the Francois Lake Hall on Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 2 pm.
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