The following is from Robert’s eulogy to his father.
“Born August 13th, 1954, he grew up in North Haven Connecticut with his 4 brothers, Peter, Buddy, John, Brendan and 4 sisters, Kathleen, Susan, Grace, Mary, mother Ann and father Daniel. He is loved very much by them all.”
“Husband to Liz for 26 wonderful years. They met in Fairbanks Alaska where he was stationed in the Air Force, we then moved to Colorado where he lived for 24 years. He left the Air Force so that he could provide a better life for his wife and son. He started selling cars at Williams Chevrolet and worked his way to being the general manager. He built great friendships while selling cars and doing product training. He had the gift to be able to talk to people and make them feel like they were the most important thing in life. He didn’t care about what they did or how much money they had but rather more about the person they were. He devoted a lot of his time to helping others. I remember going out in the middle of snow storms and helping people that were stuck in the snow and to see the smiles on their faces, and when they would try to pay my dad he said no thanks but merely handed them a business card and asked that they keep him in mind when they were thinking about a new vehicle. People respected his not taking money and did keep him in mind. That was the type of man my father was, always willing to give than to receive.”
“My father taught me all of the wonderful things about life. When I was 4 he was already teaching me how to drive, a year later we were on the front page of the news paper driving around having a blast on our odyssey. We then started riding 3 wheelers where dad taught me how to be a competitive driver. He taught me how to ski both snow and water. We had a bond that I can’t explain. In 1983 when I broke my leg he knew as soon as it happened and he was over 300 yards away. When we found out about his illness I felt the pain immediately half way around the world off the coast of Oman while flying in support of the war. He always told me how proud I made him for being his son, I always told him how I am honored to have him as my father, and that he made me the man I am today. He told me that he didn’t make me the man I am today he merely provided me with the tools to make myself the man I am today. I hope that I can be half the man he is. He will never be gone as he lives in all of our hearts forever. I will always love you dad.”
The last thing I said to Tom before I left his side for the last time in Florida was that he was an incredibly lucky man to have the family he did. He should be proud of his wife and son. Without a second to think about it and through the haze of his pain medication he told me, “I didn’t pick my family, they picked me.”
It's a thought that has echoed in my head since that moment because I realize that for all of us that knew Tom as a friend and colleague, we were the lucky ones because we didn’t pick him, he picked us.
Thanks for listening.
Robert also asked me to pass on the following so that we can prevent what happened to Tom from happening to others:
"Today I had to the hardest thing in my life. I read my fathers eulogy at his funeral. For those of you that didn’t know already my father passed away Thursday September 18th of a hard fight with cancer, he was only 49. I urge any of you that might have problems with heart burn on a regular basis or have any gas problems to please get checked out. The Mayo Clinic said my father probably had Barrett's esophagus for probably 20 years which is a curable and treatable condition but once it forms to cancer it is very hard to detect until it is too late."
- Robert Keefe