‘Don’t bot­tle it up’

Fam­ily, friends, col­leagues hon­our Cpl. Trevor O’Keefe

The Western Star - - Obituaries / Close To Home - BY TARA BRAD­BURY Tara.brad­bury@tele­gram.com Twit­ter: @tara_brad­bury

An hon­our guard of more than 100 of­fi­cers — RCMP in red serge, RNC, fire­fight­ers, cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers, sher­iff’s of­fi­cers, paramedics, veter­ans and oth­ers — formed two lines lead­ing from the steps of Saints Peter and Paul church in Bay Bulls Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Un­mov­ing in the hot sun, they saluted as Cpl. Trevor O’Keefe’s fu­neral pro­ces­sion passed them, headed to­wards the ceme­tery.

In front in a black ve­hi­cle were the fu­neral di­rec­tors with the urn car­ry­ing the RCMP of­fi­cer’s re­mains. Next was the car car­ry­ing O’Keefe’s par­ents.

As they passed, his fa­ther Pierre (Perry) gave the salut­ing of­fi­cers the thumbs up and a strained smile.

Ear­lier, dur­ing the fu­neral ser­vice, Perry told the con­gre­ga­tion he had a mes­sage he wanted to get out.

“If you or some­one you know is suf­fer­ing emo­tional dis­tress of any sort, tell some­one. Don’t bot­tle it up.”

O’Keefe, a 17-year vet­eran of the RCMP, died by sui­cide at home in Par­adise Mon­day af­ter­noon, af­ter a bat­tle with what his fam­ily says was post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der. He would have turned 48 next week.

The Bay Bulls church was filled to ca­pac­ity for his fu­neral ser­vice, the con­gre­ga­tion over­flow­ing onto the lawn. In­side, Fr. Pat Kennedy per­formed the ser­vice. Chris An­drews of Shan­neyganock, O’Keefe’s friend for the past 25 years, sang a haunt­ing a cap­pella ver­sion of Ir­ish tra­di­tional song, “The Part­ing Glass.”

At one point, two of O’Keefe’s se­nior of­fi­cers walked down the hon­our guard line, shak­ing of­fi­cers’ hands and check­ing in with them to make sure they were feel­ing OK.

Perry, with a sense of hu­mour like that of his son, told of how O’Keefe hadn’t quite ex­celled at school like his sis­ter Tracy, and flunked out of MUN twice be­fore earn­ing his com­merce de­gree.

The words spo­ken about O’Keefe dur­ing the ser­vice were the same that have been used since he passed: kind, ex­cep­tion­ally gen­er­ous, and a great guy. He was a do-any­thing-foryou type. A prankster. Al­ways smil­ing, at least on the out­side.

O’Keefe worked as a civil­ian with the RCMP be­fore join­ing the force, sta­tioned in Clarenville and Bell Is­land be­fore St. John’s. He had been serv­ing as the force’s me­dia re­la­tion’s of­fi­cer in this prov­ince for about 18 months at the time of his death.

O’Keefe wit­nessed his share of tragedy over the years. In 2008, he was the lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor in the case of a Bell Is­land house fire in which three chil­dren per­ished. He was also one of the first of­fi­cers on the scene af­ter the fa­tal po­lice shoot­ing of Don­ald Dun­phy in 2015, and was ques­tioned ex­ten­sively about his ac­tions dur­ing the public in­quiry into Dun­phy’s death ear­lier this year.

Kennedy told a story of O’Keefe re­spond­ing to a car ac­ci­dent in which a dog was in­jured along­side its own­ers. Af­ter the hu­mans were taken care of, O’Keefe made a stretcher for the dog from items in his car and brought it to a vet.

“To­day we are heart­bro­ken, but Trevor has left us a le­gacy that will live on for­ever,” O’Keefe’s mother Biddy said. “He was a tremen­dously kind man, gen­er­ous to a fault. His love for his fam­ily went be­yond bounds. He had re­spect and pride for the red serge and the boots that he would shine un­til they were glis­ten­ing.”

Just be­fore the “Last Post” was trum­peted, RCMP Sgt. Dion Foote ad­dressed O’Keefe’s par­ents dur­ing the ser­vice, thank­ing them for al­low­ing his col­leagues to par­tic­i­pate in it.

“Trevor wasn’t just a col­league or friend,” he said. “He was a brother.”

In ad­di­tion to his par­ents and sis­ter, O’Keefe leaves be­hind a son, a step-daugh­ter and a fi­ancée as well as other fam­ily mem­bers.

Af­ter the ser­vice, he was laid to rest at the Tors Cove Ro­man Catholic Ceme­tery.

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