Rev. Anselm Maynard Keefe.
by: Pat Drees
Father - Dennis Thomas Keefe
Mother - Mary Margaret Scherer
World Renowned Biologist, Educator,
World War II Military Chaplain - South Pacific,
Jan. 21, 1895
Death: Oct. 15, 1974
St. Norbert's Beloved
Father A. M. Keefe Dies
DE PERE (PG) - The Rev. Anselm Maynard Keefe, 0. Praem., who came to be
known as "Mr. St. Norbert" through his many accomplishments and
contributions to the college, died Tuesday after a long illness. He was
Father Keefe's body will lie in state at the St. Norbert Abbey Church.
Friends may call after 4:30 p.m. today. Vespers will be held Thursday
at 4:15 p.m. at the abbey.
A concelebrated requiem Mass will be held at 4:15 p.m. Friday, with
burial in the abbey cemetery. Father Keefe, a chaplain colonel, will be
accorded full military honors.
The Rev. S. N. Joppe, prior of the abbey canonry, will officiate at the
Mass. The lectors will be chosen from the college staff and the
pallbearers will be members of St. Joseph Priory.
Other Mass participants will include Frater Donald Steck, deacon; the
Rev. Benjamin Mackin, homilist; the Rev. Lawrence Mayer, music; the R e
v. Conrad Kratz, and Brother John Bostwick, masters of ceremony.
Members of the community are welcome to share in the liturgy. Father
Keefe is survived by one sister, Barbara Keefe of Oconto. His parents
preceded him in death.
Father Keefe's contributions came in many areas - as a churchman,
educator, scientist, writer and soldier.
His first term as college dean starting in 1927 and extending through
the 1930s will almost certainly go down as the era during which the
foundation was laid for the school's present and future successes.
Thousands of students during what was called the "Keefe Era" recall his
energy, his interest and his will to make the college more than "that
place in De Pere where everyone's studying for the priesthood."
The first concrete evidence of his success was accrediting of the
college in 1937 by the North Central Association of C o 11 e g e s and
During his life he achieved a n u m b e r of significant "firsts":
He was the first St. Norbert student to rise to the rank of dean, the
discoverer of a new form of algae and an unknown family of Pacific
mosquito which now bears his name (Aecles keefeii), the first scientist
to use uranium salts for the preservation and maintenance of natural
green in plant life, the first priest to receive a doctor of philosophy
degree from the University of Wisconsin, the first national secretary
and charter member of the Catholic Round Table of Science and the first
priest to hold a national office in Phi Sigma, a national biological
Maynard Keefe was born Jan. 21, 1895 in Oconto and came to De Pere to
attend St. Norbert High School and college. He received his bachelor's
degree in 1916 and received the white habit of the Norbertines on Sept.
He later earned a master's degree in biology from Catholic University
in 1923 and a doctorate in biology three years later from UW.
He returned to the campus in 1926 to become head of the biology
department and a year later was named rector, or dean, of the school.
His work at the college spanned four decades and he literally
St. Norbert was originally a six-year institution, a combination high
school and college patterned after the European seminary. Emphasis was
on Latin and philosophy.
As he assumed his duties, the strong-willed rector proposed dropping
many of the classical requirements and complete separation of the high
school and college - and he met with strong opposition.
But credit by credit, he managed to change the curriculum. Father Keefe
regarded the school's accreditation by North Central as his most
important accomplishment. Another of his major contributions was the
initiation of a coeducational program in 1952.
He organized and directed the Collegiate Players and under his
sponsorship there were more than 65 productions. Although he had no
formal music training, he founded the glee club and orchestra, which he
dubbed the "St. Norbert Philharmonic." He also founded and advised the
St. Norbert Times student newspaper and began Alpha Phi Omega, a
Father Keefe was known for his warm regard for his students and the
collegians returned his respect and affection. When the college
outstanding teaching award was instituted, he was the first recipient.
They gave it to him the second year as well and he thereupon declared
himself ineligible for further awards, stating that others deserved
The priest also had a passion for the military - he said it all began
in his boyhood when he was allowed to shine the brass buttons on his
father's National Guard uniform.
Though his Norbertine superiors would not allow him to enlist for
service in World War I, he was permitted in1921 to apply for a
commission as a chaplain in the Army Reserve.
He became a captain in 1924 and held that rank until 1938. His military
activities and his many friends in the service were invaluable in
persuading the Army to grant St. Norbert an ROTC unit in 1936.
Father Keefe became a major in 1938 and from 1940-1946 he traded his
white cassock for an Army chaplain's uniform. His career, much of what
was spent in the South Pacific, saw him advance to full colonel.
During this time the Norbertine became a prime mover in a New Guinea
malaria control program. It was there that he discovered an unknown
species of mosquito in the jungles.
He finally returned to St. Norbert in 1946, but continued to maintain
close ties with the military. One of the final accolades came in 1970 -
the year of his 50th anniversary as a Norbertine - when he received the
Four Chaplains Medal of the U.S. Army. He was only the fifth man ever
to receive the award.
The head of the St. Norbert biology department from 1926 to his
semi-retirement, Father Keefe brought to the college experiences and
recognition which remain unequaled.
The young Keefe wanted to be a writer and his teaching preference was
English, but Abbot Bernard Pennings said he needed a biologist.
An inveterate collector of specimens, he developed a herbarium that now
counts more than 20,000 specimens. He gathered and planted specimens
throughout the campus so that the grounds contain every tree and most
shrubs indigenous to Wisconsin, as well as many unusual varieties.
Following his retirement as dean of the college, Father Keefe continued
to head the biology department until 1965, when he became professor
emeritus, the first St. Norbert teacher to ever hold that title.
A Norbertine publications has given this capsule of the meaning of his
vocation as a priest:
"Father Keefe has been an inspiration to his fellow religious. Just as
the collegians recognize in him the perservering devotion to his
assignment, so his confreres see a man completely given to the work of
the Order. Few who wear the white habit will come close to matching the
record of Father Keefe. What he has done for the Norbertine American
foundation will not be erased with the years."
FATHER KEEFE SERVICES SET; COLLEGE DEAN - Special to
the Sentinel - De Pere Wis. -
A requiem mass for Father Anselm Maynard Keefe, 79, dean of St. Norbert
College and the man credited with revitalizing and modernizing the
school, will be held at 4:15 p.m. Friday in the St. Norbert Abbey
Church. Burial will be in the church cemetery.
Known affectionately as 'Mr. St. Norbert' because of more than four
decades of service to the school, he died Tuesday in Green Bay's St.
Vincent Hospital after a lingering illness.
Born in Oconto, Keefe made a reputation for himself as an educator,
scientist, writer and soldier, beside a churchman.
He received the white habit of the Norbertine priest from the college
in 1920, then went on to receive a master's degree in biology from
Catholic University in Washington, D.C., in 1923.
He received his doctorate in botany three years later from the
University of Wisconsin - Madison, then returned to St. Norbert in 1926
to head the biology department. He was named dean in 1927.
He served as an army chaplain in World War II from 1940 until 1946.
While in the Pacific theater, he discovered an unknown family of
mosquitoes which was named Aedes Keefeii in his honor.
In 1970, he became only the fifth person to receive the army's Four
Chaplains Medal, which honored four clergymen who died together in the
sinking of a ship in World War II.
Primarily through the efforts of Keefe, St. Norbert, which was founded
to prepare young men for the priesthood, was fully accredited in 1937
as a four-year liberal arts college. He initiated coeducation there in
Keefe is survived by a sister, Miss Barbara Keefe, of Oconto.
THE LITURGY FOR THE FUNERAL OF FR. ANSELM KEEFE, 0.
When all is ready, the Organist will begin the Entrance Song:
FOR ALL THE SAINTS
William Walsham How 1864
SINE NOMINE 10 10 10 with Alleluias
Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906
1 For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
2 Thou wast their rock, their fortress and their might:
3 O may thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
4 O blest communion, fellowship divine!
5 And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
1 Who thee by faith before the world confessed
2 Thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight
3 Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
4 We feebly struggle, they in glory shine
5 Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
1 Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
2 Thou in the darkness drear, the one true light.
3. And win, with them, the victor's cross of gold.
4 Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
5 And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Then follows the Rite of the Symbol of Baptism, the Pall, and the Candle
When the Celebrant goes to his place, the Community sings the Kyrie,
led by the Cantor:
Kyrie e1éi-son. ii Christe eléison. ii
Kyrie e1éi-son. i Christe eléison. i
After the Reading from II Kings 2, 7-13, the Cantor leads the Response
from Ps 114-5
I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.
After the Reading from II Cor 4,13-18, there is a brief pause before
the Gospel Acclamation. The Gospel is from John 6, 44-51.
Fr. Benjamin Mackin is the Homilist.
During the Preparation of Gifts, the St. Norbert College Chamber
Singers will sing Jesu Dulcis Memoria by Vittoria.
The Preface of Christian Death. Holy, Holy - from the Mass for
Christian Unity. Eucharistic Prayer 3
The Cantor will lead the Memorial Acclamation. The Great Amen is sung
The Celebrant will lead us in singing the Lord's Prayer. The Cantor
will lead the Lamb of God.
During the Distribution of Communion, the Chamber Singers will sing Ave
Verum Corpus by Josquin des Pres; after Communion they sing Lux Aeterna
by Maurice Duruflé.
Immediately after the Communion Prayer, the Procession to the Cemetery
At Graveside, there will be the Military Honors, followed by the Rite
of Final Commendation
'MR. ST. NORBERT,' FR. ANSELM KEEFE,
DIES OCT. 15 AFTER LONG ILLNESS
Green Bay --
The Very Rev. Anselm M. Keefe, O Praem, 79, died here Oct. 15 after a
Distinguished by outstanding effort in virtually every activity he
undertook, Fr. Keefe was most closely associated with the development
of St. Norbert College, and, in fact, came to be known as 'Mr. St.
Maynard Keefe - Anselm was his Norbertine name - was born Jan. 21,
1895, in Oconto, just a few miles north of Green Bay. There he entered
St. Joseph's school. He came to West DePere when he was 15, entering
St. Norbert High and advancing to the college, where he received his
bachelor's degree in 1916. Destined for the priesthood, he received the
white habit of the Norbertines on Sept. 18, 1920.
There was more education - an M.A. degree in biology from Catholic
University in 1923 and a doctoral degree in botany three years later
from the University of Wisconsin.
Father Keefe returned to the St. Norbert campus in 1926 to become head
of the Biology Department and a year later was named rector, or dean.
His work at the college spanned four decades, and he literally
transformed St. Norbert College, revitalizing it, modernizing it, and
some say, saving it from failure.
St. Norbert was originally a six-year institution, a combination high
school and college patterned after the European seminary. Emphasis was
on Latin and philosophy.
As he assumed his duties, Fr. Keefe proposed dropping many of the
classical requirements and complete separation of the high school and
college, and he met with strong opposition. But credit by credit, he
managed to change the curriculum. He saw the college progress to the
point where the North Central Association granted it full accreditation
as a four-year liberal arts institution. Father Keefe regarded that as
his most important accomplishment. Another of his major contributions
was the initiation of a coeducational program in 1952. Father Keefe was
innovative in many other areas. He organized and directed the
Collegiate Players, and under his sponsorship there were more than 65
productions. Although he had no formal music training, the energetic
young dean founded the college glee club and an orchestra, which he
dubbed the 'St. Norbert Philharmonic.' He founded and advised the St.
Norbert Times and began Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity.
Anselm Keefe also had a passion for the military - he said it all began
in his boyhood when he was allowed to shine the brass on his father's
National Guard uniform. Though his Norbertine superiors would not allow
him to enlist for service in World War I, he was permitted to apply for
(and receive) a commission as a chaplain in the Army Reserve.
He became a captain in 1924 and held that rank until 1938. Father
Keefe's military activities and his army friends in the service were
invaluable in persuading the Army to grant St. Norbert an ROTC unit in
1936. The Norbertine became a major in 1938 shortly before his transfer
to the 135th Medical Regiment of the Wisconsin National Guard. From
1940 to 1946 he traded his white cassock for an Army chaplain's
uniform. His colorful career, much of which was spent in the Pacific
Theater, saw him advance from a major to a full colonel.
Father Keefe returned to St. Norbert in 1946 and ultimately separated
from both the National Guard and Reserve (nine years later), but even
after that he continued to maintain close ties. After the war for
example, he became Wisconsin's only delegate to a Pentagon conference
on morals and spiritual guidance for the Armed Services.
During his three decade Army career, Fr. Keefe was cited as an
outstanding soldier, and he earned a host of medals and commendations.
He was entitled to wear 11 military ribbons and medals, among them the
Legion of Merit (by order of Gen. Douglas MacArthur), the Bronze Star,
The Commendation Ribbon, the Philippine Presidential Citation and the
Philippine Liberation Ribbon.
The head of the St. Norbert College Biology Department from 1926 until
his semi-retirement, Fr. Keefe brought to the college experiences and
recognition which remain unequalled.
His discoveries - the mosquito and algae forms - were important, but
his scientific contributions extended beyond those items.
Fr. Keefe's ability was quickly recognized at the University of
Wisconsin where he became the first cleric to hold an assistancy and
later, a fellowship in botony. At the Marine Biological Laboratory in
Woods Hole, perhaps the most famous biological laboratory in the world,
he began research on uranium-based fluids for plant preservation.
Keefe, an inveterate collector of specimens, developed a herbarium at
St Norbert that now counts more than 20,000 specimens and ranks as one
of the finest in the Midwest.
The scientist penned dozens of articles detailing his work, but not all
of them were for scholarly journals; at least one of his works appeared
in a popular gardening magazine as a houseplant how-to article.
As a nationally recognized authority in his field, Fr. Keefe was named
editor of The Biologist, a quarterly journal whose operation he
directed for 19 years.
Following his retirement as dean of the college, Fr. Keefe continued to
head the Biology Department until 1965 when he became Professor
Emeritus, the first SNC teacher to ever hold that title.
Always a journalist at heart, Fr. Keefe was the founder of the SNC
newspaper, The Times. He also served as moderator of the campus
yearbook, and under his direction the publication won national
The one constant in Fr. Keefe's life was his priesthood. His four years
at St. Norbert Abbey, from 1916 to 1920, were climaxed by his first
Mass in his native Oconto.
Though his careers in science and education consumed most of his time,
his more traditional priestly duties were not neglected. He had
assignments at the Abbey, and for many years he was celebrant and
preacher at the Sunday High Mass at St. Joseph's Church on the campus.
He served in several community churches as well.
Surviving is one sister, Barbara Keefe of Oconto.
Funeral Mass with the Rev. S.N. Joppe, O.Praem., as celebrant was said
Friday, October 18 at St. Norbert Abbey. Burial was in the Abbey
My God, my only good, Thou art all mine
grant that I may be all thine.
Anselm Maynard Keefe, a Canon Regular of Premontre was ordained to the
Holy Priesthood by the Rt. Rev Paul P. Rhode, D.D. in the Shrine of St.
Joseph, West De Pere, Wis. September 18th, 1920 and celebrated his
First Holy Mass in St. Joseph's Church Oconto, Wis. September 19, 1920.
O Priest! Thou art not thine own master,
but the servant and minister of Christ; thou
art not thine own, but thou art the spouse of the Church - St. Norbert
CELEBRATION OF FIRST MASS
Rev. A. M. Keefe Attracted Attendance That Filled St. Joseph's - FIRST
SACERDOTAL BLESSING - Imparted to Congregation by Father Keefe --
Dinner to Clergy and Relatives Family
In spite of a heavy rain St. Joseph's church was crowded last Sunday
morning at the celebration of the first mass of the Rev. A. M. Keefe,
The ceremonies began with the 'Veni Creator,' intoned by the celebrant.
This was followed by the 'Asperges.'
During the mass Father Keefe was assisted by the Rev. J. J. Looze as
assistant priest, Rev. H. S. Traeger, O. Praem of St. Norbert's college
as deacon and Rev. Walter Paiement, O Praem as subdeacon. Rev. L. C.
Becker was Master of Ceremonies.
An eloquent sermon was preached by the Rev. Father VanHeertum of
Chicago, following which the Rev. Fr. Keefe imparted his first
sacerdotal blessing to the entire congregation.
During the Mass a beautiful old custom of the Catholic church was
observed, when, at the first offertory, little Mary Ellen Klass, as
bride, attended by the little Misses Cecile Mullen and Gertrude Ellman,
as bridesmaids, presented Father Keefe with a wreath of roses carried
on a satin pillow. This was placed on the alter during the mass until
after the communion when it was again received by the bride and held
until the end of the services.
After mass benediction was given by the celebrant and the services
closed with the singing of the hymn, Holy God We Praise Thy Name.
The choir of St. Joseph's rendered special music, adding much to the
impressiveness and solemnity of the services.
A dinner was served at 1 p. m. to the clergy and relatives of the
family at the Keefe residence at 515 Washington street.
Among those from out of the city who were present, aside from the
clergy already mentioned, were the Revs. J DeVries of Coleman and O.
Kolbe of Lena and the following relatives: Mr. and Mrs. John Scherer
and family, Antone Scherer and family, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Jaeger,
Mrs. George Burnett and Mrs. Thomas Sanderson of Marinette, John Stiles
of Menominee, Mich., E. H. Whittaker and family of Duluth, Minn., Mrs.
J. Bridger and son of Lena, Matt Scherer of Carter, Joseph Scherer,
Chas. Jacobs and family, Mr. and Mrs. H. DeTennis, Mr. and Mrs. Geo.
Kelly, Mrs. James Touie and family, John Carnes, George Bottkol, Robert
Everson, Leslie Redline and Bernard M. Keough of Green Bay.
Occupation: priest, biologist, Dean, and Abbot at St. Norbert Abbey
Chaplain with the 135th Medical Regiment
135TH Med. Regt.
APO 322, Unit 1, C/o P.M.
San Francisco, Calif.
[The following posting listed on separate paper in files]
Apr 6 to May 23, 1942 Brisbane, Queensland
Jun 13 - October Northern Territory, Australia
Oct 10/42 - Jan 6/43 Brisbane, Queensland
Jan 10 - Oct 4, 1943 Port Mosby, Papua
Jan 15 - Oct 28, 44 Finnschaven, New Guinea
Oct 30 - Nov 4, 44 Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea
Rev. Keefe Observes 25th Anniversary of Ordination Wednesday
(Picture on Picture Page)
Lt. Col. A. M. Keefe, an Army chaplain and former dean of St. Norbert
college, celebrated tile silver anniversary of his ordination to the
priesthood Wednesday. He was celebrant of a solemn high mass in the
morning at St. Joseph's church on the college campus and in the
afternoon he was honered at a dinner in the college refectory.
The jubilarian received hundreds or congratulatory messages from state,
church and military officials including Gov. Walter S. Goodland of
Wisconsin, Mayor John Bohn or Milwaukee, and Leo T. Crowley, Untied
States foreign property custodian. The messages testified to the work
Father Keefe has done in both the educational and military fields.
Speakers at the dinner also outlined Dr. Keefe's success as a teacher
and administrator and as a chaplain.
Assistants At Mass
Assistants at the anniversary mass included Msgr. Julius Looze of
Oconto, assistant priest; the Rev. H. L. Traeger, O. Praem., Alverno,
deacon, and the Rev. Anthony Berens, S. J., Regent of the Marquette
university school of medicine. Subdecon. Abbot B. H. Pennings, O.
Praem, the jubilarian's religious superior, assisted at the throne in
cappa magna. Assistants to Abbot Pennings were the Revs. William
Kiernan Pastor; of Annunciation church here, and William Cunningham of
Notre Dame university.
The St. Norbert abbey choir under the direction of the Rev. R. A.
Sromovsky, O. Praem., sang a mass by Carnavali. The Rev. Dr. Peter Leo
Johnston of St. Francis seminary preached the sermon. The church was
filled with clergy, members of the armed forces and personal friends of
Father Keefe. Church dignitaries in the sanctuary included Msgr. J. A.
Marx, vicargeneral of the Green Bay diocese, and Msgr. Julius
Haun of St. Mary's college,Winona, Minn.
At the mass, Father Keefe used a chalice he had carried during 42
months in the Southwest Pacific with the 135th Medical regiment. The
alb he wore was of Limerick lace and made by the nuns of the Good
Shepherd home in Manila during the Japanese occupation of the
Speakers at the dinner described Father Keefe's activities during the
period he entered St. Norbert college as a student up to the Southwest
Pacific duty during which he was awarded the Legion of Merit for
contributions to the welfare and morale of servicemen. The Rev. Dr. P.
N. Butler, O. Praem., who succeeded Father Keefe as dean of the
college, was toastmaster.
Monsignors Are Speakers
Those who spoke included Msgr. Haun and Msgr. Marx, the Rev. Dr. T. Leo
Kaeveny, superintend-ent of schools of the St. Cloud, Minn., diocese;
the Rev. Francis McKeough of Oshkosh; the Rev. Leo Rummel, O. Praem.,
of Madi-son; Paul A. Montavon, DeKalb, Ill.; the Rev. Dr. Mark A.
Steinmetz, O. Praem.; Abbot Pennings, and Col. Marc J. Musser of
Madison, Former commander of the 135th Medical regiment.
Three other officers and two enlisted men who served with Col. Keefe in
the Southwest Pacific were introduced. They included Maj. Philip
Wilkinson, Oconomowoc, commander of the 135th Medical battalion; Maj.
Robert Hankohl, Milwaukee, commander of the 893rd Medical Clearing
company; Edward Fitzgerald, Black Creek, and St. John Atherton, Racine.
The two enlisted men worked with Father Keefe on malaria control in the
Among those who attended from away were: Brother Eugene Paulin, S, M.,
Kirkwood, Mo., superior general or the Brother of Mary schools in the
United States, Canada and South America; the! Rev. Augustine
Vandegevel, O. Praem. Grove Valley, Wash., a prefect at St. Norbert
when Father Keefe started there in 1910; Mrs. Jennie Lyons and son,
Leonard, Bridgeport, Conn. Father Keefe's mother, Mrs. Margaret Keefe,
was unable to attend the ceremony because of illness. Father Keefe will
report at Fort Sheridan, Ill., next Tuesday for a new assignment.
Rev. Anselm Keefe, - - an amazing man
Educator, Scholar, Chaplain, Biologist, Counselor Honored by His College
By Jack Rudolph
Press Gazette Staff Writer
Ever since the Rev. A. M. Keefe, O. Praem., stepped down recently as
professor of biology at St. Norbert College to become the first
professor emeritus in the school's history, things have been popping a
little faster than the "Padre" had counted on.
For years, the Monday convocation at St. Norbert was a must. Father
Keefe used the 50-minute period to broaden students' interests and
knowledge. Many will remember, for example, a series of lectures he
gave on etiquette to make the young men aware that courtesy and proper
action were not something for sissies but important for a well-ordered
First came the announcement that a $300,000 wing of the projected new
science building would be named the Anselm M. Keefe Botany Center.
Since then "Father Keefe" nights have been spreading like crabgrass all
over the country, wherever St. Norbert alumni get together. Within the
next month Padre Keefe will be guest of honor at such affairs on both
the east and west coasts, just as he has been and will continue to be
honored throughout the middle west.
The colorful septuagenarian who has triggered all the uproar is too
honest to deny that he's pleased and flattered. At the same time he
approaches the banquets and laudatory speeches with mixed feelings.
According to him, when people start eulogizing a man he's supposed to
die. Fortunately for thousands of students, soldiers and ordinary guys
who have known and loved Padre Keefe for more than half a century, he
has not the slightest intention of cooperating. A forthright Irishman
with no more than a decent respect for custom and authority, he has
never truckled to tradition for its own sake and he's too old to start
That Father Keefe should become St. Norbert's first professor emeritus
is only fitting. He's had so many firsts in his lifelong association
with the college they just come naturally. And that the news should set
off a widespread burst of affection and esteem figures, too.
At one time all boarding students at St. Norbert lived on the second
floor of hallowed Main Hall. Since they then were required to attend
church at 7 a.m. daily, Father Keefe tried to make the waking up
process an artistic, if not physical, success. He had a collection of
records numbered in the hundreds. And he had the loudest record sound
system in town. He turned it on full in the early morning hours as a
student alarm clock. During warm weather, he aimed the speakers out the
window for campus concerts.
When St. Norbert president, the Rev. Dennis M. Burke, O. Praem., wrote
recently that Father Keefe's life since the day he walked onto the then
tiny, three-shaded campus for the first time 55 years ago, Keefe was
"recognized on and off campus as the one person who has done more than
anyone else to bring about the growth and maturity of St. Norbert
College" he was only saying what everyone already knew. Indeed, it
probably isn't too much to say that for 95 per cent of its alumni,
Father Keefe IS St. Norbert College.
Founder and advisor for many years to the St. Norbert Times, college
newspaper, Father Keefe kept a close eye on articles - actually a form
of censorship accepted by staff members but never quite approved by
them. No piece of copy could be used in the paper unless it had Father
Keefe's initials, "A.K." The quip around the newspaper's quarters to
describe this situation was "His A.K. is our O.K."
The school was just a small, combination high school and seminary when
Maynard Keefe (that's his right name; the "Anselm" is his Norbertine
title) first saw it. It wouldn't be correct to say that he has watched
it grow to its present size and eminence - Father Keefe couldn't
possibly stand by and just watch anything. He has been primarily
responsible for most of that growth.
Father Keefe's name will go down in the annals of science as the
discoverer of a species of mosquito. He found the mosquito (he
pronounces it "muskitta") in Australia during one of his forays into
the back country while he was chaplain of the 135th Medical Regiment.
The mosquito he discovered was named "Aeidis keefei" in his honor.
The forty-first of some 350 Norbertine priests who have been trained at
St. Norbert, Father Keefe has been a driving force in its development
since he graduated in 1916. As a teacher, administrator, vibrant campus
personality and leader of innovations that have become traditions in
his lifetime, his contributions to the college have been innumerable.
Father Keefe recognized that students in the 1930s had little money. He
felt that students should find out something about the niceties of
eating out and how to disport themselves. Consequently, he made it a
practice to take three or four students each week to a Green Bay
Maynard Keefe was only 15 (and St. Norbert only 12 years old) when he
left his native Oconto to enroll in the fall of 1910. He took his
degree six years later and entered the Norbertine Order immediately
Father Keefe never learned to drive an automobile. But when he figured
he would be called to active service before World War II, he thought
that, as a chaplain, he could gain efficiency by learning to drive a
motorcycle. He learned to drive at the Brown County Fairgrounds.
One warm spring day, figuring he had gained enough proficiency to
venture into town, he drove toward the campus. He made a grand sweep up
College Avenue toward Main Hall, but alas, the left turn on Second
Street, proved too much. The motorcycle tipped and he ripped out the
side of his riding pants.
When it came time to leave for camp in Louisiana, Father Keefe took to
a sidecar and hired a student driver for the long trip, in midwinter.
While studying for the priesthood he began teaching at the college in
1918. Ordained in 1920 he ...took his first prolonged absence from the
campus to study for advanced degrees at Catholic University (M.S.,
1923) and the University of Wisconsin (PhD, 1926).
Father Keefe acquired the habit of collecting "Firsts" at Madison where
he was the first priest to become a teaching fellow in his final year.
Meanwhile, he enlarged his scientific horizons with 11 consecutive
summer sessions at the famous marine biological laboratory at Wood's
Students during Father Keefe's tenure as dean could never figure out
when he slept. The light in his room in the second floor tower of Main
Hall, it seemed, was on around the clock. What they didn't know was
that Father Keefe slept under a sun lamp, turned low. The secret came
out when he turned the lamp up high one night, fell asleep and showed
up the next morning several shades brighter red than a lobster.
The ink was barely dry on his Ph.D. when he was appointed St. Norbert's
first professor of biology. A year later he took the post of rector
(the title was changed to dean in 1930), an office he held, except for
a six-year break during World War II, until 1952.
As dean, Father Keefe made his most significant contributions. He
personally feels that his greatest success was getting the college
fully accredited in 1937, a task that required many years of building
its faculty, curriculum and facilities.
In 1934, a group of students (most of them members of the college
newspaper staff) decided city government in De Pere needed a change.
They entered candidates for all city offices and also for alderman of
the Third Ward, in which the college is located.
The candidate for mayor was a Brooklyn boy, Joseph Trainor, a good
platform performer. City officials were considerably upset and
prevailed upon Abbot Pennings, president of the college, to order the
students to stop. This the abbot agreed to do. The student campaign
received nationwide publicity. The campaign cost 45 cents for film to
take photos of the candidate which were used in newspapers throughout
the United States.
He was also a campus spark plug. He founded the college newspaper, The
St. Norbert Times, in 1929 and the College Players in 1930. The latter,
over a period of 35 years, have been close to his heart, staging more
than 60 productions. all but a handful under his personal direction.
His last official act as dean was to inaugurate co-education on the
campus in 1952. He had expected opposition to the project and no one
was more gratified than he when the faculty approved it overwhelmingly.
One of the banes of student existence was Bosco, a Great Dane some
friend had given to Father Keefe. The huge dog over-ran everything.
Bosco's successor was Betsy, another huge canine which Father Keefe
took along with him when he went on active duty before World War II.
Next to his long association with the college Father Keefe rates his
years of military service. A source of private satisfaction, although
one he would never admit openly, is his status, not only as the first
military member of his order in America but also its highest ranking
He tried to get into World War I while still a seminarian but Abbot
Pennings talked him out of it with the promise that as soon as he was
ordained he could go. The war was over by that time but the Abbot kept
his word by permitting him to accept a reserve commission as a chaplain.
After a taste of military life as a civilian chaplain at Ft. Belvoir,
Va., during his Catholic University days, the Padre got a commission in
1924. As enthusiastic in this as in everything else, Father Keefe was a
leader in local military activities up to the eve of World War II,
serving as state Reserve Officers Association president and a term as
national ROA chaplain. He held the rank of major when he transferred to
the National Guard in 1939.
Called to active duty with the 135th Medical Regiment in January, 1941,
Father Keefe was in uniform almost six years. He was among the first
American troops to arrive in Australia and remained in the Southwest
Pacific all the way from the first combat in New Guinea to final
victory in the Philippines. In the process he acquired the eagles of a
colonel, a Legion of Merit, the Bronze star and a reputation throughout
SouPac as one of the army's most accomplished foragers for certain
nutritious items not included in the official rations.
Father Keefe's first term as dean will almost certainly go down in the
history of St. Norbert as the era during which the foundation was laid
for the present or future success the college may have. Thousands of
students during what is literally "The Keefe Era" at the college
constantly recall his energy, his interest, his will to make the
college more than "that place in De Pere where everyone's studying for
The first concrete evidence of his success was accrediting of the
college in 1937 by the North Central Association.
Returning to the United States in 1945 he was assigned to the Office of
the Chief of Chaplains in the War Department until the fall of 1946,
when he came home to St. Norbert. Along the way he lost his eagles but
got them back again when he retired in 1955.
Standing on principle put Father Keefe in the national limelight during
his term as president of the De Pere Rotary Club. At this time,
persecution of the church in Mexico had reached a high point. During
that year also, the club's international convention was scheduled in
Mexico City. Father Keefe, in an address to the club, announced his
resignation on grounds that Mexico did not deserve the convention
because of its attitude toward religion.
Father Keefe's status as professor emeritus opens a completely new
field for his unabated drive and enthusiasms. Since St. Norbert has
never had one before, nobody is quite sure just what a P.E. is supposed
to do; consequently, the Padre can call his own shots. Don't bet he
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