June 18, 1970 - May 1, 2021
ALISON ELIZABETH O’KEEFE Alison Elizabeth O’Keefe was an extraordinarily uncommon woman. Though her deep- seeded sensitivity left her vulnerable to being hurt, she forgave straightforwardly, and was a fiercely loyal friend. Though her perfectionism sometimes impeded her ability to finish tasks, she was exceptionally creative in everything she did - from making a salad to creating jewelry. And because she had experienced both luxury and hardship in her life, she was uniquely able to connect with all people, from all stations, though she was especially empathetic to those who were disadvantaged and felt misunderstood. Alison preserved things - many things - things she appreciated for their utility, like tools and nail files and knives; and things she saw intrinsic beauty in, like the hundreds of rocks of all shapes and sizes she noticed as she traveled through her life, bringing them to her home and naming them according to the features she saw in their unique compositions. When Alison moved from Rifle to Denver, what was most important to her was not that her clothes or household goods be transported, but that the rocks she had collected there move with her. Alison possessed a distinctive sensitivity, and connected with nature and all living things - refusing to kill spiders or any pests, always escorting them carefully from her home - even recognizing the personalities of rocks. Alison also saw objects not for what they were, but for the memories they held. Anyone else gazing upon her cabinet of treasures would likely see junk - an old broken bottle, a tarnished pewter pitcher with a large hole, chipped cocktail glasses. But Alison looked at these objects and saw the magical night she had shared that bottle with a long-lost friend; the dinner table of her childhood when that pitcher had held water; those glasses in her grandparents’ apartment where as a child she had loved attending the large family happy hours where the glasses were used. Any object that held a memory, no matter its appearance - a disintegrating squirrel pelt, rotting fabric, shattered glass - was an object that Alison cherished, and held dear, and preserved. And just as Alison recognized the worth of broken things, so too did she see the good in broken people whom others might summarily dismiss. Alison did not judge. Even as a child, when her elementary school introduced a program that brought children with cerebral palsy to the school and other children mocked and teased them, Alison befriended them truly, without pity or condescension. On a deep and profound level, Alison empathized with those who struggled, those who felt discarded and forgotten. Though she had traveled Europe in the highest style, worn designer clothes, driven a Lexus and partied in her youth with famous bands, Alison never held herself above others, never affected superiority. She was genuine, and she was generous. Even when she had very little to give, she shared what she had. She shared groceries with her neighbor. She gave money to the homeless. She bought thoughtful cards and gifts for family and for friends. And Alison was a fiercely loyal friend. Forty years later, she remembered the phone numbers of all of her elementary friends. She had maintained many friendships for more than thirty years, through good times and difficult ones, while also constantly making new ones. Alison had the unusual ability to connect quickly and intensely with people very different from herself, and her large circle of loved ones was wide and disparate, encompassing people of all ages, all races, all walks of life. People who were far too different to ever form relationships among each other nevertheless had relationships with Alison because of her generosity, her sensitivity, her willingness to recognize the intrinsic good in everyone. Alison, though always shy, was also, at heart, an entertainer. She could be hysterically funny, often finding humor in situations that were otherwise morbid or sad. As a child, on road trips, she would entertain her parents and older siblings for hours in the car with her impressions of cartoon characters and the clever tales she would weave, but would then be too shy to order lunch from a waitress at a roadside diner. At large family reunions, when family members would drop by the condo in which Alison was staying, she became the consummate hostess, pulling what was in the fridge and the cabinets and putting it into various plates and dishes to miraculously create an attractive feast from virtually nothing, and then hovering amongst us - refilling an olive dish, cleaning a counter, refreshing a drink. Alison was a caretaker, ever on the watch for what one needed, always wanting to fulfill the needs of others. As a child Alison had many stuffed animals, all of whom she named and infused with distinctive personalities and characteristics. She staged elaborate tea parties for the animals during which they held long (funny!) conversations in their individual voices and reflecting their individual personalities. Her creativity also manifested in her unparalleled fashion - even as a young child, when her mother would take her shopping, Alison would put together clothing stylishly. As a young woman she modeled, and throughout her life Alison attracted attention for her beauty and her flair. In her later life, Alison designed jewelry, taking what appeared to be worn and purposeless objects and melding them into exquisite necklaces and earrings. Though shy as a child, and sometimes painfully withdrawn as an adult, Alison could also, conversely, be relentlessly assertive. She possessed a keen sense of justice and was tenacious when she believed she had been wronged. She would consult with attorneys; demand to talk to a supervisor; call, write or speak with anyone whom she believed might help her in her pursuit of righteousness. She was fearless and indefatigable - she would allow nothing to stand in the way of her pursuit of virtue. Her quest for justice was indicative of Alison’s perfectionism which manifested itself in most everything she did. Though sometimes this could hobble her, at other times it resulted in extraordinary accomplishments such as Alison’s most recent project which was the decorating of her mother’s apartment. Alison considered even the most minute of details in this enterprise, including such things as providing hooks for her mom’s shopping cart; supplying solar lights for her exterior walkway; and taping carpets to prevent falls. Alison loved. She loved rocks and spiders and decaying squirrel pelts and monkeys and elephants. She loved hammers and paper clips and pewter pitchers and broken vases. She loved her family. She loved her elementary school friends, and her friends from high school, many of whom she held close relationships with throughout her life. She loved countless people from her past with whom she may no longer have had contact, but whose absence she mourned acutely. And she loved the myriad others with whom she connected because above all, Alison was sensitive and generous and loyal and forgiving of our faults. Alison Elizabeth O’Keefe was born in Denver, Colorado on June 18th, 1970 and died at her home on May 1st, 2021. She is survived by her mother, Kirstin Jensen; her father, Ed O’Keefe and step-mother, Toni O’Keefe; her sister, Kira O’Keefe and brother-in-law, Darren Jacobsen; her brother, Doug O’Keefe and sister-in-law, Andrea O’Keefe; her brother, Andrew O’Keefe; and her nephews, Jaq O’Keefe and Nate O’Keefe. A gathering to remember Alison and celebrate her life will be held on her birthday, June 19th, at 1:00 PM at the home of Dawn and Bill Telesco at 8878 West Crestline Drive Littleton, CO 80123 To honor Alison, and/or in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Alison’s name to: SIBU Wildlife Sanctuary https://sibusanctuary.org A nonprofit that rescues baby monkeys whose mothers have been killed by electrical wires. Because Alison loved monkeys and always wanted one of her own. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary blesele.org An elephant sanctuary in Thailand that protects elephants from abuse and extinction. Because Alison felt a special affinity for the sensitivity elephants show for one another.
ALISON ELIZABETH O’KEEFE Alison Elizabeth O’Keefe was an extraordinarily uncommon woman. Though her deep- seeded sensitivity left her vulnerable to being hurt, she forgave straightforwardly, and was a fiercely loyal friend. Though... View Obituary & Service Information
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