George O'Keeffe

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George O'Keeffe, age 70, died unexpectedly at his home in Angeles City, Phillipines, on Sept. 28, 2011. He was the fifth of nine children of the late Jack and Eleanor O'Keeffe of Skyline Farm on Noble Road in Ulster Township.

George attended Saint Agnes School through twelve grades, where he played high school varsity basketball under Coach Frank Bialek. He graduated in 1958, and attended the University of Notre Dame, earning a BA in history in 1962. After college, he was commissioned an officer in the Navy in Newport, R.I. He served three years aboard a destroyer in the Atlantic Sixth Fleet engaged in anti-submarine warfare maneuvers. In 1965, he transferred to the Pacific, where he served as the Admiral's Aide and Flag Lieutenant for the Seventh Fleet, headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan. George left the Navy in 1970, and embarked on a business career. After earning an MBA in international business from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz., he went to work for EDS, where he focused on designing and installing electronic banking systems for developing countries.

In 1979, as the Islamic Revolution unfolded in Iran, George was among the last group of EDS employees to safely leave the country. When it was learned that two employees had been left behind and were imprisoned in Tehran, Ross Perot, CEO and founder of the company, secretly employed a band of former military special-forces personnel to rescue them. George supplied logistical information in the planning stage of the mission, which successfully broke the two men out of prison and got them out of the country. A detailed account of the incident appeared in a best-selling book by Ken Follett, "On Wings of Eagles."

In the 1980s, George continued to work in a similar capacity for EDS, Perot Systems and Siemens. In the 1990s, he headed a team that brought a multi-fold increase in market share for IBM Services in China. He also worked as an agent for numerous companies, gaining access for them to markets throughout Asia.

He is survived by his wife, Rona O'Keeffe, of Angeles City, Phillipines; a daughter Teresa O'Keeffe of San Francisco, Calif.; a son John O'Keeffe of Boise, Idaho; a granddaughter Giorga O'Keeffe of Los Angeles, Calif.; a former wife, Hsiu Lan O'Keeffe of Taipei, Taiwan; four sisters, Peggy O'Keeffe Coen of Walnut Creek, Calif., Mary Ellen O'Keeffe Giffune of New Cloucester, Maine, Kay O'Keeffe of Durham, N.C., and Eileen O'Keeffe-Angell of Lake Forest Park, Wash.; and three brothers, Jim O'Keeffe of Buffalo N.Y., Mike O'Keeffe of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Pat O'Keeffe of Port Clinton, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his mother in 1975 and father in 1989, and his sister, Betsy O'Keeffe Simpson, in 1992.

A funeral service, with full military honors, is being arranged by the VFW in Angeles City, Philippines for October 16. A second service is tentatively planned for Veterans Day, Nov. 11, in San Francisco, Calif. Further information, as it becomes available, may be received from George's brother, Pat O'Keeffe, at 419-732-8871, or by email at

Published in Daily Review on Oct. 13, 2011
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