CDR James G. O’Keefe, USN, RET

Feb. 4, 1950 – Feb. 5, 2019

ELK HORN, Iowa — James G. O’Keefe, 69, passed away on Feb. 5, 2019, from pancreatic cancer.

Jim was born to James and Pauline (Peterson) O’Keefe, on Feb. 4, 1950, in Omaha, Neb. He was raised in Huntley and upon graduation from Huntley High School received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. 

He graduated from USNA in 1972 and was commissioned an Ensign, serving on the USS Charles Berry. After two years of deployments to Korea, Japan, and North Vietnam, Jim was accepted to flight school and earned his aviator helicopter wings at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Pensacola, Fla.

While attending flight school, Jim designed a helicopter landing pad simulator, eliminating the need for trainees to ‘practice land’ on active aircraft carriers, and an ‘incubator suspension system’ which protected infants from vibrations during helicopter transport.

Jim graduated from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and earned an MBA from Salve Regina College in Newport. Throughout his life he continued to read, learn, problem solve and tinker. He was an accomplished musician who enjoyed playing French horn and string bass.

Upon retiring from the Navy, Jim worked for SAP, one of the world’s largest software companies. He used that experience to establish several software-based training companies.

Jim eventually settled in Elk Horn with his wife, Phyllis. He became very active in “New Century Art Guild, Inc.,” a non-profit corporation registered in Iowa and Nebraska with a primary mission of providing training in art and business education to military veterans.

Jim is survived by his mother, Pauline of Huntley; son, Jimmy of Portland, Ore.; and sister, Barbara of Paradise Valley, Ariz.

According to Naval Tradition, Jim was buried at sea; at his request, no services will be held but a portion of his ashes will be buried in the family plot in Torrington.


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