Rita Keefe

Obituary of Rita Claire Keefe

Rita Claire (Brennan) Keefe died peacefully in her sleep on May 4, 2020 after battling Parkinson’s disease for 17 years. She was widowed from her husband, Richard Keefe, in 2008.  She leaves behind a son (Ryan) and his wife (Vernadette) and their four children; and daughter (Erin) and her husband (Phil Musil) and their two children.   

            Born in Chicago in 1942, to Dr. Robert and Mrs. Olive Brennan, she grew up in the small farm town of Philo, Illinois, and had many happy memories growing up there with her four siblings. She was a good student, and very active in school- student council, gymnastics, cheerleading, and she was voted homecoming queen of the Senior class.  She reached her dream of becoming a nurse, following in the footsteps of her mother, when she graduated from St. Francis School of Nursing in Peoria, IL in 1963.  After graduation, she and a nursing friend headed out west and settled in California’s Bay Area. She soon found a job at Stanford Hospital.    

            It was at Stanford that she met Dr. Richard Keefe, and their romance began. They were married in spring of 1969, and settled in Los Altos. They loved to travel, whether on a safari in Africa or waiting out a hurricane in Fiji, and loved spending time with family and friends. Rita returned to school to earn her Master’s in Public Health at San Jose State. She became a mother in 1976 when Ryan was born, followed by Erin in 1978.  Rita decided to temporarily hang up her nurses’ cap to be a homemaker and effectively juggled this along with numerous volunteer jobs and working in her husband’s office until the children went off to college.   

            Rita then returned to Stanford, working at its Blood Center for another ten years.  She was an active member of AAUW, the American Association of University Women, and even served as a local chapter president. Rita had a passion for women’s equality throughout her life and advocated for fair pay for nurses at Stanford Hospital and held events and fundraised for AAUW. With many interests, most days were busy for Rita- wine tasting, bridge group, Stanford football games and other sporting events, time with friends and family, or movie nights. She pursued these interests as long as she could and fought valiantly against the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s, but was forced to enter an assisted living home in 2014, where she lived until the end. 

            She will forever be remembered as a vivacious, caring, and gregarious woman by everyone who knew her. She will be missed greatly.  

To honor Rita, her family asks for donations to AAUW in her name. www.aauw.org. Checks can be mailed to: AAUW 1310 L Street NW, Suite 1000. Washington, DC 20005.    

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