Longtime Rockville Centre resident Robert “Bob” O’Keeffe died on Aug. 19. He was 90.
O’Keeffe was born on July 21, 1931, in Morristown, N.J., to Samuel and Constance O’Keeffe. His family eventually relocated to Rockville Centre, where he moved in next door to the future love of his life, Phyllis, whom he eventually married.
He spent four years in the Navy as an aircraft mechanic and received an associates degree in applied science from the State University of New York at Farmingdale. He worked for Grumman Aerospace Corporation for nearly 40 years, designing tools and equipment for many of Grumman’s iconic aircrafts, and was most proud of the work he did on the Apollo Lunar Module. He was captivated by space, often taking out his telescope to view the moon and planets, and he looked forward to receiving his daily email from NASA with the astronomy picture of the day.
O’Keeffe loved gardening. At his home in Massapequa, he grew some the largest and most delicious tomatoes around; in his later years he joined the Master Gardeners of Fluvanna County, in Virginia, and volunteered to help the local 4H Club. He also enjoyed woodworking and built a full workshop in his house. He combined his love of gardening and woodworking with his love of the church by building the Mary’s Walk and gardens at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Brooklyn.
He was loved by all who knew him. He always had a smile, a kind word, or a silly joke, for anyone he met. O’Keeffe loved kids, and neighborhood kids would often knock at the door to ask if he could come out and play. Most of all, he adored raising his daughter, coaching her soccer teams, biking with her to the beach, teaching her how to drive a car and a boat, walking her down the aisle at her wedding, and cherishing holiday visits and family card games with her children.
O’Keeffe is survived by his wife of 65 years, Phyllis; his daughter, Ellen; son-in-law, David; and grandsons, Jack and Luke. He will be dearly missed and be forever in their hearts.
A funeral Mass was scheduled for Aug. 31 at 11 a.m. at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Brooklyn. Interment followed at the church cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to kidsgardening.org.