KATHLEEN ANNE O'KEEFE
O'Keefe, Kathleen Anne Found peace early Monday morning, aged 54, after nine months of illness which she faced with her customary backbone of steel. Wife, friend and a bright shining star to Jason Barber. Daughter of Joe and the late Lenora O'Keefe, and much more than a sister to Michael, Janice, Mark, Jennifer, and Karen, as well as to Jules and Michael in New Zealand. Loved aunt of Georgia, Sam, Leigh, Jennifer, MacKenzie, Brady & Caroline, who all brought immeasurable joy to her life. Kathleen touched the lives of many other people, in Asia, Africa, the US, New Zealand and Europe. There will be a private cremation, followed by a memorial service at a later date. In lieu of sending flowers or gifts to her family, please carry out acts of kindness to others, in memory of Kathleen and in keeping with her spirit and nature. Love is the answer.

Published by Boston Globe from Dec. 1 to Dec. 2, 2014.
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45 Entries
Had the pleasure of meeting Kathleen and Michael back in 92 while in the Canadian Forces with the UN in Cambodia, for a while I seemed to be at their office very often , I think a book was being produced, sad to hear of Kathleen's passing.
Luke Pascall
Acquaintance
April 1, 2021
Michael Rubin
August 3, 2019
My condolences to the O'Keefe family.Kathy made a huge impact in the world.She was a great friend as we grew up together.
Joe Moriarty
December 13, 2014
To Kathleen's family and countless friends, my deepest sympathies on learning that she is no longer with us. Kathleen joined The Asia Foundation in the mid-80's as a Program Officer in the Asian American Exchange unit. She was bright, creative, efficient in developing programs for Foundation-supported Asian visitors to meet with American counterpart professionals throughout the U.S. She was a delight to work with, and her grace and charm, coupled with her professionalism, captivated everyone. While we were sorry to see her move to a field office, it was a well-deserved promotion and we were happy that her accomplishments and talents were recognized. We are deeply saddened now that she has departed this world, yet find solace in knowing that she has left a remarkable legacy in her all too short life.--Vera Young
December 9, 2014
My deepest sympathy to all her family and friends.
Marie Burke (Lenora's cousin)
Marie Burke
December 7, 2014
Kathleen, our meeting was brief and filled with quiet moments during your massage and yet I knew right there and then that you are a beautiful person and beautiful soul. I will carry LOVE as I continue to serve the oncology population. Peace, Bambi Mathay
December 7, 2014
Laurent Meillan
December 6, 2014
Laurent Meillan
December 6, 2014
Laurent Meillan
December 6, 2014
Laurent Meillan
December 6, 2014
Laurent Meillan
December 6, 2014
Kathleen, it has been a real joy and a real privilege to meet you in Cambodia at the end of the 90's. You were so kind, so helpful and so beautiful. And you've achieved a real good job on this earth. We will miss you, miss your kindness and your smiles, your stories too. I hope that you're in a peaceful place and I think to you also Jason, with sadness. Bruno Carette
December 4, 2014
http://www.kathleenokeefe.org/
Guest
December 4, 2014
http://www.kathleenokeefe.org/
December 4, 2014
Condolences to family and dear friends on the passing of Kathleen. I never got to know her as well as I might have wished, but I admired her greatly. She and Michael gave me an invaluable introduction to Cambodia from the time I arrived in Phnom Penh in 1995. She has left us much too soon and will be missed.
Gordon Longmuir
December 4, 2014
"Kathleen was always a great supporter of our cause and a dear friend to the Bophana Center, here in Phnom Penh. A very generous and courageous woman, her legacy will live on through the kindness she shared with all whom she met. On behalf of Rithy Panh and the team at Bophana Center we would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Kathleen's family and loved ones and give thanks to having had the opportunity to know this beautiful soul that will be sorely missed."
Bophana Center Team
December 4, 2014
Kathleen radiated compassion, good humor and integrity, both personal and journalistic. She was a joy to be around. The world is richer for her having been a part of it for 54 years, even if we are all poorer for her having departed it so soon.
MaryKay Magistad
December 4, 2014
I met Kathleen in 1993 at the Ministry of Tourism. We became friends and share many aspirations to help rebuild Cambodia. We worked together on many tourism project and I always remember her act of kindness. She touched the lives of many Cambodians who met her. She will be deeply missed.
Sovachana Pou
December 3, 2014
Deepest condolences from John, Marie and family. A woman who was utterly sincere, genuine and loving. Kia Kaha Jason.
John Tulloch
December 3, 2014
I would like to share deepest condolence to the family of Kathleen O'Keefe for the great loos of beloved Ms. Kathleen. It was a privilege to have known her and her husband Jason. She had contributed a lot to Cambodia in term of human rights, democracy, especially press freedom. Her husband has contributed much to the cause of the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms through his work with UNOCHCR and LICADHO. May I wish her soul to rest in peace!
Chantha MUTH
December 3, 2014
Farewell Kathleen, bright spirit and brave soul who co-founded The PPP with Michael. Thanks for that wonderful opportunity. Driving with you through the broken streets of PP after the coup, to tell the story of what happened. Your energy and generosity touched so many of us. Deep condolences to your family and loved ones. Nick Lenaghan
Nick Lenaghan
December 3, 2014
"When Michael Hayes first approached me in the days after the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements in October, 1991, at the then Renakse hotel across from the Royal Palace, waving a letter he had written to King Sihanouk and ranting on something about seeking Royal approval to open the first independent newspaper in Indochina since it fell to communist rule in 1975, I was both wholly enthusiastic and convinced he was a tad bonkers.
Both being enthusiastic and being bonkers were essential character traits to successfully operating in Cambodia in those wobbly days of the 1990's as the country stuck their feet, reluctantly, into the cold waters tiptoeing towards democracy.
What Michael Hayes failed to mention was he had a secret weapon in the arsenal of his goofy scheme to create the Phnom Penh Post: His then wife, Kathleen O'Keefe
Kathleen had one of the sharpest minds, and certainly the most beautiful eyes, of anyone I have ever met. She was an organizational genius with a beautiful heart.
Kathleen O'Keefe was the Phnom Penh Post's secret weapon of success--a sort of combination General George Patton and Mother Theresa--but decidedly more mesmerizingly gorgeous.
I have never met anybody who did not love Kathleen O'Keefe.
There was never any question among anyone, from the get go, that it was Kathleen who was in charge, the irreplaceable glue, that kept the very, very goofy idea of planting the flag of the Free Press in the headquarters of the belly of the beast, Phnom Penh, alive.
When the Phnom Penh Post set up shop in a three story rented villa across from Wat Botum in 1991, Michael and Kathleen lived on the first floor, the Post newspaper operations were on the second floor, and I lived on the third floor. The newspaper, against all odds, took root and, deservedly, quickly acquired the reputation as a must-read, unflinching, truth-telling, remarkably principled bastion of the Free Press.
While the Phnom Penh Post flourished, Kathleen and Michael's marriage did not. Soon enough, Michael moved up to the extra bedroom next to mine on the third floor and Kathleen remained on the first floor.
I am sure Michael deserved it, whatever it is that makes things like marriages and newspapers not work out. But they retained a remarkable respect and affection for one another and the newspaper operation never skipped a beat. Michael and Kathleen and the rest of the Post troops continued to cherish the Post.
The Phnom Penh Post was something bigger and more important than any of us, alone, then. And, arguably, Kathleen was bigger and more important than any of us who were lucky enough to be affiliated with the Post in those important days.
Everyone had a special, untouchable place in their heart to cherish Kathleen.
I can't tell you how many times Michael Hayes reiterated that the paper could simply not survive without Kathleen. He was, like he mostly was, right.
When he was not, Kathleen stepped in and fixed things that the rest of us did not have the talent or brain power or will or charm to accomplish. She was the glue that kept the beast together and she kept well-oiled the many, ever changing moving parts of running a newspaper.
I loved Kathleen O'Keefe. Everyone did.
And I was and, remain, in awe of her talents and her heart. Everyone who knew her was.
It is very, very sad that Kathleen has gone now, at the age I am now, writing this, 54. It is sobering for everyone.
But it is much, much more of a blessing for everyone lucky enough to have her share her special, extraordinary self with, however cut short that has been. I choose to remain thankful that I was among them. Thank you, Kathleen, for making me a better person and for making the world a better place.
Nate Thayer
December 3, 2014
I have great memories of Kathy while growing up on Tyler Ave. Blizzard of 78 and free pizza off you dads pizza truck. Kathleen was a great person and friend. My prayers go out to you all during this difficult time.
Jim Moriarty
Jim Moriarty
December 3, 2014
Ah Kathleen - you left us too early... We are so sad that we won't see your striking blue eyes and beautiful face again. Nor will I (Lyndal) be able to have passionate discussions about politics and the state of the independent media and civil society in Cambodia and elsewhere. Your work with those living with and affected by HIV was inspirational - as well as with journalists reporting the issue - when I had the privilege of working with you. You really changed people's lives for the better and made a real difference because everything you did you did to the max and with full attention. And I (Sophie) will remember you focusing on backgammon in cafes around town while holding court with friends and finding answers to life's existential questions. You taught me so much about Cambodia and were such a part of the fabric of the society I knew there. We both cant imagine Phnom Penh without you. We will miss you girlfriend and will never forget you. Love and strength to family and friends especially Jason and Michael. Love, Lyndal and Sophie Barry (Australia/Myanmar)
Lyndal/Sophie Barry
December 3, 2014

We shall all keep a beautiful memory of Kathleen. We always considered her as the godmother of our news website Ka-set. Kathleen was always there for us, helping us, supporting us, with her good advice, with her smiles, and with her constant availability.

Kathleen, you were our angel and no words could ever say how much we owe you and how much we thank you for all you did for us. You kept us going forward, always encouraging us, with your optimism and your high vision of journalism. Your memory will stay with us forever. You were a person who made the world a better place to be, and it was an honor to know you.

We include a picture of a smiling Kathleen, taken by John Vink, and it's how we will always remember her, as a joyful soul.

To Kathleen's loved ones, and to Jason, you are in our thoughts

ex-Ka-set team (Stéphanie Gée, Laurent Le Gouanvic, John Vink, Duong Sokha, Chheang Bopha, Ros Dina, An Sophorn, An Sopheak, Véronique Ellul, Ji-sook Lee)
Cambodia
December 3, 2014
Sharing a space and lives above the Mekong. Happy times, lots of laughter. Thanks Kathleen, a life well lived. You will be very missed, Trish xx
Tricia Fitzgerald
December 3, 2014
As a journalist working in Cambodia, I would like to pay tribute to Kathleen. She was a very great person and all people in Cambodia who love truth must thank her for her integrity, her courage. Also she was a very kind person with a great sensiblity. As their elder, I am sure that young journalists in Cambodia will never forget her commitment for a better Cambodia and a better life for all cambodian people.
RIP Kathleen,
Pierre Gillette
December 3, 2014
This morning, only a few moments after I learned with immense sadness that Kathleen, a great and passionate lady I had the priviledge to know in Cambodia, had passed away, I was at the Shabunda hospital, in Eastern DR Congo, on the bedside of a young women who had just delivered two beautiful twin sisters. I am not a great believer, but I saw it as a sign of hope from Kathleen sent from wherever peaceful place she is surely now.
Philippe Latour
December 3, 2014
I will always remember Kathleen's warm heart and how much she cared for people, especially those who were victims of injustice. She was a woman of action, aside from words, who did what she could to help people. She was also a lot of fun to hang out with, and I remember sharing more than a few bottles of wine with her, Jason and other friends. She will be missed. My deepest condolences to Jason and the O'Keefe family.
Maia Diokno
December 2, 2014
I'll always remember Kathleen's warm heart, how much she truly cared for people, especially those who were victims of injustice. She was a woman of action, who did what she could to help those in need. She was also a lot of fun to hang out with, and I remember sharing many bottles of wine with her and Jason and other friends. She will be missed. My deepest condolences to Jason and the O'Keefe family.
Maia Diokno
December 2, 2014
Beautiful Kathleen, today I would like to believe that somewhere around us, you are watching all of us. I can see you smiling peacefully. I am sending you all my love. Jason, je t'embrasse très très fort. Fabienne Luco
December 2, 2014
Joe and family, we are deeply sorry for your loss. Kathy has joined her mother and she is no longer suffering, knowing this hopefully will help you get through this. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

With our deepest sympathy & friendship.
Mary & Louie Forgione
December 2, 2014
I have many memories of Kathleen - those groundbreaking days from 1992 in Cambodia following the course and fall of the Khmer Rouge; always a friendly face for visitors to the PPP office and then later during her adventurous life with Jason. It was always wonderful to see them both here in Wellington and to catch up with their exciting lives. Kathleen, I will always remember you. Rae Julian, Wellington, NZ
December 2, 2014
I only knew Kathleen for a short time, but withinn that tme I was inspired by the spirit with which she and Jason faced life. The memory of her spirit and determination in difficult circumstances will last for a very long time.
Elaine Barrington-Ward
December 2, 2014
Kathleen leaves a legacy as a pioneer of press freedom in modern Cambodia. I personally witnessed her courage and self-sacrifice on more than one occasion. She was a hell of a woman. My deepest condolences to the many who loved her.
hurley scroggins
December 2, 2014
Kathleen O'Keefe co-founded the Phnom Penh Post in 1992, a newspaper which turned out to be one of the best new ones in all of Asia, recognized around the world by those who cared to have a look. Without her efforts the paper would not have gotten off the ground nor would it have survived in Cambodia during all the difficult years in the nineties and beyond. She worked her tail off for many years keeping the paper alive and keeping it on track. I am so terribly saddened to hear the news of her too young demise. My deepest sympathies go to Jason, her dad Joe, her siblings, nieces and nephews and all her relatives in Massachusetts. I feel terribly saddened and flooded with grief and I have no adequate words to thank her for all she gave nor what she meant to me and so many of her friends here in Cambodia and around the planet. The pain and reality of life has only been terribly sharpened by her passing. Michael Hayes
December 2, 2014
So sorry to hear this. Thinking of you Jason. You two were always super inspirational to me. And everyone could see how much you adored each other. So sorry for your loss.
sharon beattie
December 2, 2014
I knew Kathi to be a soft spoken, kind hearted, compassionate and warm person. She was the epitome of human and because of her worldly experiences, understood so much more about people as a whole than most of us ever will. Rest in peace, Kathi. I know your mother has welcomed you with open arms.
Katie McMullin
December 2, 2014
My heart is breaking for your family. I am so very sorry for the loss of such a smart and talented woman as Kathleen. Even when we were children, it was clear that she was a unique and beautiful person. My deepest sympathies to all of you. Nancy Jenkins
Nancy Jenkins
December 2, 2014
Loving memories of a caring, kind friend. A lovely visit to Cambodia, scary, thrilling motorcycle dash, lots of cars and a warm sea!
May you rest in peace.
Much love Ro
December 2, 2014
My deepest sympathy to the family. May the God of loyal love comfort the family during your time of sorrow. Psalms 119:76
December 2, 2014
The warmth of her personality and the way she became a full part of the wonderful friendship we have shared for many years with the Barber family in New Zealand.
Warmest wishes from Suzette and David Pearson
December 2, 2014
Kathleen was such a lovely and kind person. I remember that one day in early November 1992 when I walked in the the office of the Phnom Penh Post newspaper. She was the first person I met - and thank to her I got the job as a reporter at the newspaper. She wasn't just such a caring boss but someone who helped plant the seed of free press in Cambodia. Her contribution in founding the newspaper has touched so many lives, including mine. She was like my sister and dear friend. I will always miss you. RIP.
Munthit KER
December 2, 2014
Farewell my lovely friend. I shall miss your smile, your wisdom and your immense help with my books. You leave behind hundreds of friends and hundreds of grateful Cambodians (and Africans)who learned so much from your compassion, humility and vast knowledge. May you find peace with the Almighty and may be, one day, he will allow us to meet again. My heartfelt condolences to Jason and the family. I share your grief.
Julio Jeldres
December 2, 2014
Munthit KER
December 2, 2014
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