John O’Keefe, MMA’s third president from 1965 to 1980, passed away Friday,
January 22. He began working for MMA in 1960 as director of industrial relations.
During Mr. O’Keefe’s tenure, membership grew from 670 in 1965 to 1,200 in
1980; property was purchased and the 10,000 square foot building was constructed
that continues to serve as MMA headquarters; MMA’s group insurance program was
revamped to add health coverage in addition to existing term life insurance; and, in
1980, Mississippi had the best business climate in the U.S., according to the Grant
Study, conducted by Alexander Grant and Company of Chicago.
Visitation is 1:00-3:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 27, 2016, at Parkway Funeral
Home in Ridgeland followed by funeral services at 3:00 p.m. Burial will follow in
Parkway Memorial Cemetery.
Mr. O’Keefe was born and raised in Jackson and attended the Jackson public schools. He joined the Army
Air Corps in 1942 and became a pilot. He flew 358 hours of combat in the China India Burma Theatre.
He joined the Mississippi Army National Guard as an Army Aviator and retired as a Brig. General in 1979.
General O’Keefe received several medals during his military service that included the Legion of Merit,
Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal. He attended several service
schools that included the Army Command and General Staff College.
Mr. O’Keefe was an avid golfer and active in Seniors Golf Programs at the Jackson Country Club.
Mr. O’Keefe was preceded in death by his parents, Maurice and Grace Beasley O’Keefe; sister, Kathryn
Adams; and brother, Milton O’Keefe.
Survivors include his wife, Gwen Varney O’Keefe; brothers, Carlton O’Keefe of Madison and Frank O’Keefe
of Clinton; son, John T. O’Keefe Jr. of Ridgeland; daughter Peggy Weems (Billy) of Quitman; Step-son
Doug Varney (Judy) of Madison; step-daughters, Diane Palmer of Ridgeland and Tomine Gables (Mark)
of Ridgeland; many grandchildren and step-grandchildren.
To view Mr. John O’Keefe’s obituary, click here