Elbert Byron O'Keeffe, 96

May 18, 2010

DEC. 23, 1913-MAY 15, 2010

Elbert Byron O'Keeffe, 96, of 12825 Cathedral Ave., Hagerstown, Md., died May 15, 2010, at his home.

Born Dec. 23, 1913, in Omaha, Neb., he was the son of the late Elbert R. O'Keeffe and the late Edena F. O'Keeffe.

His wife of nearly 55 years, Mary Alice (Miller) O'Keeffe, died March 10, 2005. They were married June 10, 1949, in St. Paul, Minn., after a courtship spanning two continents.

He is survived by his sister, Marialice C. Sandison, and her husband, William, of Sioux City, Iowa; a brother-in-law, John "Jack" Miller of West Lafayette, Ind.; a niece, Catherine Lenah, and husband, Peter, of Minneapolis; nephews, Thomas Sandison and his partner, Donna Pompell, of Hagerstown, Robert Sandison and his wife, Sue, of Grand Rapids, Mich., William Sandison and his wife, Elizabeth, of Baltimore, and John Sandison and his wife, Cathy, of Spirit Lake, Iowa. Elbert is also survived by 11 great-nieces and great-nephews; close friend, Anna Irene Little of Hagerstown; and longtime caregiver for both Mary Alice and Elbert, Kaseena Hoover of Warfordsburg, Pa.


Elbert was predeceased by his nephew, Jim Sandison.

Elbert was a graduate of Omaha North High School and studied at the Paris Ecole and the University of Maryland, as well as in numerous special infantry, intelligence and engineer courses of the U.S. Army. He retired from military service after serving 26 years, during which he served in the continental United States, Europe, Korea and Japan, earning seven campaign ribbons, the Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars, the Combat Infantry Badge and numerous other awards, including those from four nations. His last foreign assignment was as a general staff officer, headquarters, Far East Command/Eighth U.S. Army in Tokyo. At the time of his retirement, he was a general staff officer, headquarters, the Army Intelligence Center at Fort Holabird, Md., with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Following retirement from the Army, he served the State of Maryland for 16 years as civil defense coordinator for Western Maryland, retiring from that service in January 1979.

Lt. Col. O'Keeffe was active in several fishing organizations, including holding office in the Eastern Council, Federation of Fly Fishers. He was an organizer, officer and founding member of the follow-on Mid-Atlantic Council, FFF, and the Antietam Fly Anglers of Hagerstown. He also participated in the founding of the Creek Side Anglers of Hedgesville, W.Va. He was a member of the Potomac Valley Fly Fishers of Frederick, Md., and the Friends of Big Hunting Creek at the Catoctin National Forest.

Generally known as "Al" in fishing circles, he was active in teaching and demonstrating fly tying in the Mid-Atlantic area, with a reputation for innovation in designing fly-rod lures and flies.

There will be no viewing or internment service. He was cremated and will be buried in Lafayette with his late wife.

A gathering of friends and family will occur Saturday, May 22, 2010, at 1:30 p.m. at Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home, 1331 Eastern Blvd. North, Hagerstown.

Memorial donations may be made to the organization of your choice.

Online condolences may be expressed at

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