Colleen M. O'Keefe
Dr. Colleen M. O’Keefe, DVM, 61, of Springfield, passed away on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at Memorial Medical Center after a courageous fight with cancer. Colleen was born January 13, 1951 in Palo Alto, California, but spent her formative years and most of her adult life in Springfield and other cities in Illinois. Colleen was a highly successful veterinarian and nationally known breeder of Welsh Springer Spaniels. She graduated from Ursuline Academy in Springfield, Springfield Junior College, and the University of Illinois- College of Veterinary Medicine. Later she attended Kansas State University and received an advanced degree with emphasis in animal reproduction.
She is survived by her parents, Robert E. O’Keefe, Sr. and Margaret M. O’Keefe of Springfield; four brothers, Robert E. (Lisa) O’Keefe, Jr. of Petersburg, Dr. Timothy (Donna) O’Keefe of Joplin, MO, Dr. John (Cindy) O’Keefe of Springfield, Daniel (Lynn) O’Keefe of St. Louis, MO; one sister, Ellen (Geoff) Andres of Springfield; ten nieces; four nephews and two great nephews. She was preceded in death by one nephew, Robert E. O’Keefe III.
Colleen received a multitude of honors for her professional achievements. Her service to the breed of Welsh Springer Spaniel was known internationally, and she was the past president of the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America, and owner of numerous champion dogs. Colleen was Chairman of the National Specialty four times, received the TomJoy Breeder of Merit Trophy, and was the first recipient of the Greenwood Cup, a lifetime achievement award for service to the breed. Colleen served many years as a small animal veterinarian in clinics around Illinois, and was formerly the Manager of Food Safety and Animal Health at the Illinois Department of Agriculture, a position that was responsible for more than 200 positions in a variety of bureaus in the Department.
Visitation: 4:00-7:00 p.m. Monday, June 18, 2012 at Staab Funeral Home.
Graveside Service: 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at Calvary Cemetery with Reverend Peter C. Harman officiating.
The family requests memorial contributions be made to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation or the AKC- Canine Health Foundation for Welsh Springer Spaniels.
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Imagine my saddness when I opened my Starter Barks to find that Colleen had passed. It hit me hard. Colleen sold me my first Welsh, Ch Limberlost Upfront On The Double CD, aka " Mason". Colleen & I always called him the bargain basement welsh because I got Mason for a sale price. He went on to be her 13th CH of record thus winning her the Tom-Joy Breeders Throphy. I remember Colleen giving me the biggest hug after I won a 5pt major at a supported entry.And allowing Mason to represent Traveler in the stud dog class at nationals. She was the best mentor and friend in the breed. As a novice I couldn't have asked for better. I always took her advice. We always knew when she was at the shows because she would put the pink flamingos in front of her van. I stayed at her home when I brought Samantha to her for breeding and I attended several gatherings after shows at the cluster in Springfield. I will miss her dearly. I only hope I lived up to my promise to her for trusting me with Mason. I know she didn't make it far in heaven without a herd of Welsh tackling her and kissing her. I've lost my dearest friend, mentor and gift. She was truely one of a kind. I will do as my native teachings have tought me and that is not to cry because her spirit has a journey to make. But I will remember her in a good way and celebrate her life. God Bless Her !
To my friend Colleen, I know you are in a better place. Such a sad journey you've been on. I treasure all of our conversations. I am a better person for having know you. Every time we see a pink flamingo, we will smile and think of you, Janet Sidebottom and Susan Burgan
Colleen was always an upbeat, strong woman despite the challenges she faced throughout life. I never saw her without a smile on her face. I hope she is running with Lyndy and Trav and pink flamingos!
It's hard not to think of Colleen when I see pink flamingoes. There some in a store window today, and of course my thoughts are of her. I am zo sorry for ypur loss, I only new her thru the world of Welsh.
My prayers go out to Colleen's family during this difficult time! She was truly a amazing person who will be missed by all!
Colleen and I first met in the early 1980s probably at a dog show, probably either the WSSCA National at Penn Treaty KC or the American Spaniel Club show. She was always kind and helpful to me, and over the years I consulted her for advice on all things Welsh Springer related. Our friendship over 30-odd years persisted because the dogs brought us together and kept us together. We could start a conversation at a show and finish it the next time we saw one another, either the next day or the next year. We will miss her warmth and patience and her wealth of knowledge of all things Welsh-related.
The first time I met Colleen was at the 2002 National Specialty in Georgia, and it involved a flamingo. Colleen was micro-chipping dogs as a fundraiser and I had brought my young WSS puppy girl up to get chipped and to watch all of the Welshies. I figured that anyone who would direct me to her setup with the words “look for the flamingo, you can’t miss it” was going to be interesting and I was not disappointed. Since I live in Florida and Colleen in Illinois, I didn’t get to see her that often but when I did, it usually involved plenty of laughing and learning. She was always generous with her time, knowledge and wit. One night at AmSpan this year a large group of us went out to dinner together and walked several blocks from our hotel to the restaurant. Colleen and I fell behind, talking and puffing our way up the hill, and were the last to get there. We and four others were the overflow that wouldn’t fit at the big table with the earlier, more agile part of the group. No problem and no surprise – our small table became the “party table.” The surprise flamingo birthday party for Colleen the next day was the icing on the cupcake - great friends, great food, great fun – it will not be the same without her. But I’ll bet there will be flamingos at AmSpan next year.
My heart and prayers go out to Colleen's family and friends today. A very special friend was laid to rest, and I will sure miss her. Colleen was one of the first people we met when we joined the Welshie world. We had been members only a couple of years when she called and wanted to know if our first Welsh, Wynde,wanted a little brother. She sent us Limberlost Tell Me No Lies better know as Telley. He lived for 16 years, was the last of the Traveler kids, and a very special boy. It was such fun camping together at the many dog shows, and we spent the evenings having a glass of wine, sharing a meal and talking over what happened at the show that day. So many of our dogs have gone on before us, and I am sure my husband has been very busy in heaven taking care of all of them for us. I know he will be very glad to have Colleen's help since the pack was getting very large. Colleen was a true friend and I sure will miss her.
It was a mixed blessing to have seen Colleen at the National Specialty. She worked so hard of this, and it must have been a struggle to attend the banquet. She appeared frail in stature, but remained a graceful spirit to all who attended. I know that she received praise for all that she has accomplished, and prayer for continued strength and healing at that time, My pray is that she was comforted by the show of love and support from her fellow Welshie friends. For all that you have done to better the breed, I rejoice in your life, Colleen! And I bless you the peace and company of all of your friends who have waited for you. With sincerely condolences to your loved ones, Sandy
Mr and Mrs O'Keefe and the family, We were so sorry to hear of the passing of Colleen, and we will keep you all are in our prayers as you go through this difficult time. I think she had a lot of friends waiting for her on the Rainbow Bridge that are keeping her good company. Steve and Joyce Beaumont
Marge, Bob, Ellen and family: I am so sorry for your loss. We go through Life and forget sometimes to count our Blessings when we are well. There are so many Dieases that can cause so much trouble and heartache. I hope your Faith helps you in this time of sorrow. My prayers are with you all. Your old neighbor, Louise Sitki
I worked with Colleen for several years in Chicago, as well as knowing her through the dog show circuit and our late friend, Jerome, who had several of her Welsh Springers. She will be dearly missed by all. John and Cindy and the rest of the Family - please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. You are in my thoughts at this difficult time. Al
Colleen was a warm and welcoming person in the Welsh Springer community when I got my first dog. We were, by chance, crated next to each other at the first Spaniel Club show I attended. During the course of the weekend, I met everyone because EVERYONE stopped by to talk with Colleen. And she, being the kind of person she was, introduced me, the newcomer, to everyone. She had the most wonderful, dry, sense of humor. And whenever she would close her eyes before the punchline I KNEW it was going to be a zinger. Rest well Colleen. I know that you, Connie and Beth are have a cup of Welsh brew and a good chat right now.
Colleen Thank you so much for your friendship, and all your wise advise you gave me. We had a mailcorrespondence since 1998, and later it stucked. How happy we both were by finding eachother on FB again, just 1,5 year ago! You will be always in my heart! All your work for our beloved Welsh Springers will be not for nothing! Thank you so much for the support to our Dutch WSSC in healthmatters. My sincere condoleances to the family, friends and all who have known this wonderful woman! Han
From all my heart and from all Welshies in the world we thank you for all you gave of your knowledge. I learned a lot from you and you gave me a tremendous support. With Love Laila
Colleen and I were veterinary school room-mates. I will remember her smiling and funny! Also will remember my first green bread on St. Pats Day and visiting her family home which was fun. I don't think her mom knew we had come in late at night and she didn't blink with two more at the breakfast table. Colleen was warm and gracious and loved all animals. IMy deepest sympathy to the family--we will miss her.
Condolences to family of so great a friend who gave me my first Welsh Springer , foundation of Pencader lines, one of the few breeders-retired,now living in BC Canada
Just a note to let her family know that I am deeply saddened by her passing. She was kind enough to allow us to see her beloved pets from time to time. Larry Baker, DVM
Strictly speaking, Colleen and I had just a business relationship. My dogs saw her when she had a practice in Rochester, I was the anesthetist for one of her operations, and she boarded her dogs in my kennel. But, I described my relationship with her as "friend" because that's how it felt. Colleen was open and warm, never seemed to be in a hurry, always asked about our mutual friends, and was a willing informal consultant when I had questions about my guest dogs. And what lovely dogs she brought in - all sane, quiet, healthy and well behaved - the kind of which a breeder must be proud. She will be sadly missed by friends human and canine.
I met Dr. O'Keefe at Sangamon Ave. Veterinary Clinic 15 years ago when I brought in a puppy I found on the street. Dr. O'Keefe helped me bring this five month old German shepherd puppy back to life. She did everything right for this beloved dog who went on to live for 14 years. I trusted wholly in Dr. O'Keefe's knowledge of dog care. She shared her love of dogs with me. I will never forget bringing Tupelo to her for the first time. Thank you Dr. O'Keefe for the great dog advice that I am now using on my second found street dog. Peggy Mason. (Tupelo is now in heaven with you. She will stop by for a visit.)
Colleen was the second Welshie person I met. She was so kind and helpful in educating me about the breed. At shows she was never to busy to mentor the novice exhibitor. Her smile, sense of humor, and devotion to the breed is what I always remember about Colleen. The Welshie Community has lost a wonderful person.
Before Colleen I knew nothing about Welsh Springers. She took the time to educate me on the breed. Before I knew it I had three wonderful dogs. She taught me to groom, took me to shows,and became a good friend. Her knowledge and respect from her peers is is unchallenged. She will be missed by the organization, family and friends. Her memory for me lives in my dogs. God Bless you Colleen and may you rest in peace with Lindy and Traveler. Marsha King, Springfield Il.
I've known Collen since 1986 when she gave me my first Welshie .AJ was a Lindy son she had kept for herself - but she graciously sent him to me after I'd waited for almost two years for a puppy and it's arrival had fallen thru. Aj was followed a year and a half later by Ryan, a Traveler son. She became a Dear freind and mentor. I was lucky enough on two trips to the MidWest for shows to be able to spend time visiting at her home. I will miss her humor, wisdom and caring ways. There are many like me who have her to thank for sharing her dogs with us and she will be remembered everytime we smile upon their freckled-faces.
Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. Colleen was our vet for many years. Lily the cat from her Rochester office was one of many of her office cats along with Blue one of her spaniels that became our beloved pets. May the Lord give you comfort and strength. Roger and Gayle Behl
I am so sorry to hear about Colleen. I knew her first as a vet and then became a friend. She gave my beloved Paddy a cocker spaniel 3 more years of life when other vets said their is noting more we can do. She never gave up on her. I like flamingos also those funny little birds that look like they are missing a leg while standing. Use to get her funny stuff if I found it. She was truly as asset to our community and will be missed Sincerely Renee Cerutti
Colleen changed my life forever. She gave me my first Welsh in 1984. Jesse was a daughter of Colleen's first dog Lindy. Now my dogs, Colleen's dogs, define me. Colleen and I travelled together to shows. We went to Canada several times, we went to GA specialties more than once. Colleen and I shared many dogs, Calon, Tristan, Louisa, and now Mea. We always joked that we were family. She always came up Minnesota to help evaluate litters. I was fortunate enough share her journey during good and bad. I will miss her but she will always be with me, I can see her whenever I look into the eyes of my dogs. Hey Colleen, I bought Mea a flamingo toy yesterday, she took it on our walk this AM.
Colleen and I got our first Welsh Springers from the same breeder- Connie Christie, our dogs were litter sisters. I met Colleen for the first time in PA that year and we shared a room every year we attended the National Specialty. Colleen would set up this HUGE bar in our room and people would drop by to visit and share a drink and some of my "Southern Goodies". We never got any sleep at these shows, and we talked ALL NIGHT! Our dinner table at the Specialty was usually the loudest and we spent the whole dinner laughing and carrying on.........we would repeat this at the American Spaniel Show in NY when Colleen would make that trip. A Toast to you, Colleen. I know you were greeted at the Rainbow Bridge by Lindy and the rest of your Welshie friends.
Our deepest sympathy. We will miss her.
It was good to see Colleen a few weeks ago at the National Specialty show in Wisconsin. She was working hard to be her usual self--kind, witty, and thinking of others rather than herself. I personally will miss her (I've known her for thirty years) and so will all the Welsh Springer friends she made over the years. Rest in Peace, Colleen. Marion
Lisa Price posted on 10/26/13
I am so saddened to learn of Colleen's death. She was such a wonderful person, and she taught me so much about Welsh Springers. My 2 Welsh came from Limberlost. She will truly be missed. Lisa Price, Franklin, TN