By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor
Dr. Dan O’Keeffe died at the age of 98 1/2 on Sunday.
Dr. Dan was one of my favorite people on the planet, a friend and inspiration. A life force flowed through him like a spring. He lived a life I admired — committed to family, place, faith, community, profession — and fun.
As a Glens Falls obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Dan delivered 10,000 babies. He was my mom’s doctor and my wife’s. (Dan retired before our two boys were born; his daughter Dr. Kate delivered them.)
Dan was a serious, respected physician, but he was just as much irrepressible free spirit, always on the prowl for a good time. In retirement, he tried golf once, hated it, took up tennis from scratch, became a national age group champ, became friends with the great Roy Emerson, brought him to Glens Falls for Tennis & Swim Club banquets. When we had the Chronicle TV Show on TV8, Dan and “Emmo” came on as guests. Dan got the Australian telling stories that were uproariously hilarious. I so regret our videotape of that episode got lost somewhere!
Dan had no pretense. He was proud to have grown up in and never really left the “Crick” — North Creek. Born in 1921, Dan was a soda jerk at his father’s pharmacy and lived the North Creek life, with the hunting, fishing, skiing and hijinks. He was a story teller extraordinaire; he put his tales in books that sound just like he talked.
Dan was so ardent for nature that he left a large tree standing right smack in the middle of his driveway.
Then there was the day a big hunk of rock appeared in his front yard. “Garnet,” he told me. “From the Crick.”
A few years ago — actually eight-and-a-half years, it turns out, when I searched on our server for the photos — Dan took me to the Crick because there were things he wanted me to see. He was 87. What a fantastic day we had, as Dan shared one great bit of history after another.
Here was the house he grew up in. There, that rundown building, was the titanium depot that Dan said ran non-stop during World War II, processing ore brought by rail from Tahawus to ship for use in American aircraft.
Dan had me stop at a stone monument on Route 28 that marked the childhood home of Eben Rexford (1847-1915), whose song “Silver Threads Among the Gold” was a megahit of early 20th century America, Dan explained.
I’m just getting started. Tons of other people have their own Dr. Dan tales to tell. What a great and exemplary man.
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