Joseph (Joe) J. Keenan Jr., 74, passed away at home after a 2-year battle with esophageal cancer. Born and raised in Historic New Castle to Joseph and Mary (nee VanVeen), Joe graduated from St. Peter High School. He attended Spring Garden Institute of Technology in Philadelphia before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1968. In 1970 he married his high school sweetheart, Catherine ‘Kay’ Jackson. In 1971 he was transferred from Groton CT to the Naval Medical Research Institute at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda MD where he served as a Tissue Culture technician. In 1972 Joe and Kay moved to their new home in Silver Springs MD and welcomed their only son John P. “Jay” in 1974. In 1978, Joe left the Navy to return to New Castle and built a family home on the Baldton, next to Kay’s parents. In 1979 he joined the Delaware Air National Guard’s 166th Tactical Clinic as a lab technician. He was activated in 1991 to serve in Operation Desert Storm and retired when he returned stateside.
He used his Navy training as a Tissue Culture technician to obtain work for the DuPont Company, first in Medical Products then as a scientist in formulations for Agricultural Products. He received many awards culminating in a patent. He retired in 2007 after 25 years of service. He was very proud of his Military and DuPont service.
In 1992 Joe and Kay purchased land in Townsend DE and moved to a newly built home in 1997.
Joe was a true renaissance man. He loved fishing and owned several boats. He fished about every pond/lake in Delaware. He became a private pilot, and the family enjoyed many flights in their personal single engine aircraft. Joe’s love of all mechanical things started when he worked at Cini’s garage while in high school. After restoring and fixing many vehicles for friends and family he came to settle with a collection of 7 antique cars. He enjoyed taking the cars to local cruise nights and the Hagley Museum Car Show as well as many other events.
He also had a deep love of woodworking. Over the years he has worked on numerous building and remodeling projects for family and friends. He built much of the furniture for the new house in Townsend. As members of St. Joseph RC Church in Middletown, Joe built and Kay finished, many furnishings for the new church. Joe was very proud that he made them from the repurposed pews from the old church.
Joe will be deeply missed by family, friends, and the neighbors on Old State Road. He had become a fixture in the area. In his retirement, he could be usually found in one of his shops working on the cars or woodworking projects. If he wasn’t there, or fishing, he would be out on his tractor tending to the land, and in the winter using the tractor to remove the snow from the neighbor’s driveways. He was a hard worker and would help anyone in need.
He leaves behind his wife of 53 years, Catherine “Kay” (Jackson) Keenan. His son Jay lives next door to their house in Townsend and Joe leaves behind his daughter-in-law Suzanne (Taylor) Keenan, and two grandsons – Brandon Vincent and Charles Joseph. Joe was the oldest of four children. He also leaves behind his sister Susan McLaughlin (Michael dec.), and his brothers - Dennis (Kim) and Paul (Ramona dec.).
Relatives and friends are invited to attend Mass of Christian Burial at St. Peter the Apostle R.C. Church, 515 Harmony St., New Castle, DE 19720, on Thursday, July 27, at 12:00noon. Friends may call at the church from 10:00am-11:30am. Interment will take place immediately after mass in the adjoining church cemetery.
In lieu of flowers the family asks contributions in Joe’s name to the Poor Clare Nuns
37 McCauley Rd, Travelers Rest, SC, United States, South Carolina