Kirk W. Keene
(1919 - Feb. 12, 1996)

Kirk W. Keene: WWII Veteran 
Husband, Father, Grandfather 
 
by Molly Keene 
 
After his 35th Infantry Division unit held off the German army for more than 
22 hours, Kirk W. Keene was captured in January 1945 during the Battle of the
Bulge. He was kept in a German prisoner of war camp for three months, victim 
to tortures he never disclosed, but that surely haunted him the rest of his 
life. 
 
His nearly five-year stint in the Army was preceded by a year in the U.S. 
Navy, from which he was honorably discharged in 1940. Yet after World War 
11 was over, Keene refused any and all military pensions. 
 
He was a true patriot. 
 
Keene, of 430 E. Hamilton Ave., Sherrill, died Monday, February 12 [1996] 
at Oneida City Hospital after a brief illness. He was 76. He is survived by 
his wife of 45 years, Eleanor Wolverton, of Sherrill; his son, Richard Kirk 
Keene, general manager of Eagle Newspapers, of Syracuse; daughter-in-law 
Molly Keene, editor of Syracuse Parent, of Syracuse; granddaughter Georgia 
Keene, 6, of Syracuse; grandson William Keene, 4, of Syracuse; and several 
nieces and nephews. 
 
Kirk Keene, who was born in 1919 to Kirk and Georgia Keene of Oneida, had a 
promising career ahead of him, enrolling in 1937 at the University of 
Chicago to study law. Then World War II began and he joined the Navy in 
early 1939. 
 
After his discharge, he enlisted in the Army in October 1940 as a Private, 
First Class. His capture at Bastogne, France came in January 1945. 
 
His mother, Georgia Keene, had just about given up hope when she hadn't 
heard from him in three months. More than 30 letters she had written him 
had been returned. 
 
Then he cabled his pastor in Oneida Castle with the message: "Do not worry. 
Am all right." 
 
Keene returned to Oneida after the war, and married Eleanor Wolverton in 
1951. He worked at Oneida Ltd., as a foreman in the shipping department for 
31 years, retiring in 1981. 
 
His later years were spent visiting his son and daughter-in-law, and 
enjoying his grandchildren. He will be missed by those who love him. 
 
Even though he could have been buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 
Virginia, Keene chose instead to be buried next to his wife's family in 
Oneida Castle Cemetery. His headstone will read: 
Private, First Class, Kirk W. Keene 
1919-1996 
35th Infantry Division 

Date: Saturday, March 18, 2000 03:57 PM

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