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Robert A. Keegan

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Robert A. Keegan Obituary

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KEEGAN, Robert A. ROBERT A. KEEGAN On January 16, 2012, at the age of 59, Robert A. "Bob" Keegan passed away after a ten-month battle with cancer. Bob was a humanitarian, a world traveler, an amateur musician, an avid cyclist and a devoted family man. Bob was a former Deputy Director of the Global Immunization Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) Bob retired from the CDC on March 30, 2007, after 33 years of service. Bob began his employment as a public health advisor working in the STD Division in Newark, NJ, New York City, Atlanta, and Houston, Texas. In addition, Bob helped to investigate Legionnaire's Disease in New York City's Garment District in the late 1970s; worked to locate non-responders in Fulton County, GA, as part of Agent Orange studies in 1982; and helped to develop the first pre-and post-test counseling for HIV/AIDS. From 1985 to 1990, Bob lived in Bangkok, Thailand and coordinated CDC's Refugee Health Activities in Southeast Asia, helping to assure that refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were immunized and treated for communicable diseases. In 1991, Bob joined the newly formed Polio Eradication Activity at CDC, which had a staff of six and an annual budget of $3 million. Since that time, the Activity has grown to become the Global Immunization Division (GID) with a staff of 100, and an annual budget of more than $140 million. GID has expanded to include measles mortality reduction and regional elimination, and routine immunization strengthening. As the Deputy Director of GID, Bob helped CDC become a major force in the global polio eradication initiative. During his career he supervised and mentored dozens of younger staff, and is remembered by them and by colleagues throughout the world for his technical skill, great warmth, humor, frankness, and personal support. During his CDC service, Bob was a recipient of the William C. Watson Jr. Medal of Excellence and the Public Health Advisor of the Year Award from the Watsonian Society. Bob also received the U.S. Public Health Service Special Recognition Award as well as the Philip Horne Award from the National Immunization Program. Bob was also the recipient of a special CDC Foundation 10th Anniversary Public Health Hero Award. On April 19, 2007, following Bob's retirement, Representative Henry C. "Hank" Johnson read a Tribute to Bob Keegan on the floor of the United States House of Representatives in honor of Bob's service while working for CDC. In the summer of 2007, Bob achieved a personal milestone by bicycling across the United States on the TransAmerica Trail from Florence, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia. Though his bicycle trip began as a personal desire to ride and see the country, it ended up becoming a fundraising event that raised over $10,000 towards polio eradication through Rotary International. Both during and after his career with CDC, Bob was an avid traveler who spent time on six continents and in over 50 countries. Following his retirement from the CDC, Bob became a consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and lived with his wife near London, England and Barcelona, Spain until their return home to Atlanta in March 2011. Bob is survived by his loving wife of 33 years, Gloria J. Keegan, his children, Marcus G. Keegan and Lauren A. Keegan, as well as by 10 siblings, Alicia, James, John, Eileen, George, Thomas, Joseph, Mary, Michael and Timothy Keegan, his stepmother, Irene Montgomery, his aunt, Eleanor Brandt, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Jan. 29, 2012
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