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Official Obituary of

James Vincent Keefe

April 17, 1936 ~ February 22, 2024 (age 87) 87 Years Old

James Keefe Obituary

James Vincent Keefe, age 87 of Park Ridge. Beloved husband of Corrinne (nee Marek). Loving father of  Mary Kate Keefe (Kerry Marcheschi), Daniel (Pam) Keefe, Siobhan (Danny) Juett, Megan (Bill) O'Donnell, James (Michelle) Keefe, and the late James Vincent Keefe Jr. Dear grandfather of Zach and Danny Keefe, Jake Juett, James and Rowan Keefe, Finn and Liam O'Donnell, Patrick (Talia) O'Neill and Erika (Mike) Mercado. Great-grandfather of Dallas, Stevie and Jessie Mercado. Devoted brother of Mary (Michael) Mahoney and Eileen (Patrick) Clifford. Cherished uncle and cousin to many.

Born in Chicago to parents Walter and Catherine (nee Gillespie), Jim grew up on the West Side in Saint Angela’s Parish. He attended Saint Angela’s school where he built many lifelong friendships, like the gang from “The “Kindergarten Club”. A group that has continued to gather monthly, usually over pizza and beers, for more than 8 decades, even up until the week before Jim left us. 

After Saint Angela’s, Jim briefly dabbled in theological studies at Quigley Seminary before the brothers of Quigley decided that Fenwick High School would be a much better fit. At Fenwick he loved to box and play football.  There were many funny stories from his days at Fenwick including one about breaking the nose of one of his classmates  in the boxing ring -- and then several days later, setting it in the cafeteria.

After Fenwick, Jim attended St. Norbert College in De Pere Wisconsin where he played football and majored in shenanigans. After his freshman year, Jim transferred to Loyola University in Chicago, changing his major to business and going back to work at Sears. At Sears he made more lifelong friends and continued his pursuit of the love of his life, Corrie, who he eventually married in the winter of 1960.

Jim graduated from Loyola with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Ever the entrepreneur, Jim founded a janitorial services business upon graduation.  Ultimately, he was recruited to join a fledgling machine tool company, Speedfam, where he enjoyed an amazing career where his innovations and energy grew the company into a successful international enterprise, doing business all across the globe.  The Keefe house was often like the United Nations where Jim and Corrie would host dinners with colleagues and customers from across North America, Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Middle East and they even hosted a dinner for a contingent from the USSR. 

Jim was a successful inventor and holder of multiple patents.  His business success and entrepreneurial prowess led him to become an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management where he advised students in the Entrepreneurship program.

After his career at Speedfam, Jim enjoyed a 38-year retirement traveling in the company of good friends and the wife he adored, sailing the great lakes on the Cahirciveen (named for the town in Ireland where his grandmother was born) and enjoying the beauty of the north woods at his beloved Michigan North Woods Club where he served many years on the Board of Directors.  His true joy was sharing with his children, grandchildren, and friends the beauty of God’s creation “up in the woods”.

Jim was passionate about giving back to his community. Together with Corrie, Jim devoted countless hours to the mission of the Julia Center which provides services to underserved women in the Mexican community of Chicago.  He established and served on the Julia Center's Board of Directors.  He was a dedicated supporter of Mary, Seat of Wisdom Catholic Church -- there was no project too big or too small for Jim – if it was broken, he’d fix it, if it needed to be built, he’d build it, if there was money to be raised, he’d raise it.   Even in his final hours, he was reengineering the “new” baptismal font at Mary, Seat of Wisdom. He was “plumbing his way to Heaven” as his family always teased.

Jim touched countless lives. His generosity, kindness, integrity, loyalty, strength, wit, and work ethic will continue to be an inspiration to us all.

Sail on Old Salt!

Visitation Friday March 1, 3-8 p.m., at Ryan-Parke Funeral Home, 120 S. Northwest Hwy., Park Ridge. Funeral Mass Saturday, March 2, 11 a.m., at Mary, Seat of Wisdom Church (Cumberland at Granville), Park Ridge. Interment private.

To view the livestream of the funeral mass please click the following link 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Julia Center, ( 

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March 1, 2024

3:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Ryan-Parke Funeral Home
120 S. Northwest Hwy.
Park Ridge, IL 60068

March 2, 2024

11:00 AM
Mary Seat of Wisdom Church (Granville Ave, Park Ridge)

Private Interment


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