Edward John Keenan, 82, passed away peacefully on October 4, 2010 at Hospice Center, Edgewater, Florida.
Mr. Keenan was born in New York City on December 7, 1927, son of Thomas and Julia Saunders Keenan. Ed joined the Coast Guard at age 14 and served in the Pacific during World War II. After his honorable discharge, he graduated from Shrub Oak High School in New York, as class president.
Following high school, he attended the New York Institute, White Plains, New York and several Marine Engineering schools. Ed joined the U. S. Navy and served in the Korean War. One of his Naval assignments included serving as the head cargo officer in Bremerhaven, Germany, where he met and married his first wife, Erica. His position in this port paved the way for his future endeavors in the shipping industry. He was hired as port consultant by the city of Odgensburg to revitalize the Ogdensburg Port Authority shipping business. While working for the Port Authority, Ed served as the commanding officer of the Odgensburg Naval Recruitment Station, for nearly 20 years.
In 1961, Ed ran as an independent progressive candidate for mayor in Odgensburg, New York. When his petition to run as an independent was disqualified, Ed took his fight to the local voters and appealed to the residents to elect him on a write-in ballot. He proved that you can fight city hall and he upset the established political parties by winning the mayoral race on a write-in. For this accomplishment, he was awarded the New York State Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award in 1962 at the age of 34.
He went on to serve three consecutive terms as mayor of Ogdensburg where he succeeded in obtaining funding for and building a riverfront senior citizen housing high rise, improved city water and sewer systems, and dramatically increased the shipping traffic to the Port of Odgensburg. Subsequently he was elected to serve as a New York State Assemblyman representing St. Lawrence County in northern New York.
As an entrepreneur, Mr. Keenan owned several successful businesses over the years including Ogdensburg Commerce and Navigation, Syrell Manufacturing in Syracuse, New York,the Arlington Inn and the Dew Drop Up restaurant in Potsdam, New York. He was a member of the VFW, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, and the Elks Club.
Ed married Mary Lou Chave, a music teacher, in 1981.
Prior to his retirement in 1992, Ed made his living as a marine engineer for Military Sealift Command, sailing in the Great Lakes, and the world’s oceans. He received a commendation from the secretary of the Navy in 1986 for exceptional meritorious service in operations off the coast of Libya.
He remained active in local politics, even waging an unsuccessful campaign for mayor in the mid-eighties. In 1991 he relocated to Edgewater, Florida. His lifelong interest in civic affairs continued with his involvement in the local community. He served as president of the United Taxpayers of Edgewater, and he was a member of the Silver-Haired Legislators and the South East Volusia Republican Club. Ed was well-known for his frequent letters to the editors of the Ogdensburg, Daytona Beach, and New Smyrna Beach newspapers. He was a familiar figure at city hall meetings for many years. He was also known as the Edgewater Landing Chorus mascot. He was a member of St. Gerard’s Catholic Church, Edgewater, and regularly attended St. Peter the Fisherman Episcopal Church in New Smyrna Beach.
Edward is survived by his wife of 29 years, Mary Lou Keenan, son Michael, and step-son Christopher Hannan of Edgewater, Florida. Other survivors include his first wife, Erika Welcher, and their six children : Denise Freihofer, Edward H. Keenan, Michele Horton (Mike), Colonel John D. Keenan (Jimmie Dell), Yvonne Finley and James E. Keenan, 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A brother, Thomas, predeceased him.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Hospice of Volusia Southeast Care Center 4140 South Ridgewood Avenue Edgewater FL 32141
A celebration of life for Edward will be held on Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Peter the Fisherman Episcopal Church with Fr. Jim Spencer officiating.