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Dennis M. Keefe, longtime radio and print journalist, dies at 66

Oct. 5, 1952 – May 17, 2019

Dennis M. Keefe loved being a journalist, especially for radio.

He loved it so much, in fact, that he started his radio journalism career by taking a time slot that few others would want – the overnight shift.

"He was so gung-ho about radio that he volunteered to take it," said his wife, the former Karen Carr. "He loved it."

Mr. Keefe also had an impressive acting career, performing in local theater productions and in a couple of full-length feature films.

He also was "a voice-over artist, a hopeless golfer and a proud grandpa," his wife said.

Mr. Keefe, 66, died Friday of advanced-stage melanoma in Hospice Buffalo in Cheektowaga.

A Buffalo native, Mr. Keefe graduated from Bishop Timon High School in 1970. He attended Siena College for two years, followed by two years at SUNY Buffalo State, where he graduated in 1974.

It was while he was studying at Siena that he started his radio journalism career on the overnight shift as a news reporter.

After graduating from Buffalo State with a bachelor's degree in English, Mr. Keefe worked as a line haul coordinator for a trucking company, arranging schedules for the truckers, but he eventually found his way back into the field he loved, journalism, said his wife. They met in 1979 when she started work as an editor at WEBR-AM. He had been working at the radio station already as a news reporter and anchor since the mid-1970s.

After about four years of dating, the couple married in 1984.

Mr. Keefe worked at WEBR for more than 20 years.

Budd Bailey, a co-worker of Mr. Keefe's at WEBR, tweeted Saturday that Mr. Keefe always held his own in a building full of interesting people.

"I can still hear his deep voice and quick laugh," said Bailey, a retired Buffalo News reporter and editor and a current columnist for Buffalo Sports Page.

After WEBR, Mr. Keefe worked for about a year and a half as a City Hall reporter for the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal.

He then was a news anchor for several years at Oldies 104.1 WHTT-FM, where "he had the time of his life working on air with radio legend Danny Neaverth and his son, Dan Neaverth Jr.," Karen said.

Mr. Keefe retired in March as a claims adjuster for Geico.

He also was an accomplished actor in professional and community theater in Western New York. He appeared in productions with the Subversive Theatre Collective; Buffalo United Artists; Buffalo Ensemble Theatre; Alleyway Theatre; Theatre of Youth; Ujima Theatre; and various other theater productions. He also directed a play and acted in several productions for St. Stephen's Parish Players.

He last starred in "It Can't Happen Here" in 2017 with Subversive Theatre, his wife said.

"He got top billing in that," she said.

He also had a significant role in the play "Jimmytown! The Rise and Fall of Jimmy Slattery" in the New Phoenix Theatre.

"It played to sold-out houses," his wife said.

Mr. Keefe also acted in two full-length movies: "Shadow Creature" and "Corporate Affairs."

Kurt Schneiderman, founder and artistic director of Subversive Theatre, directed Mr. Keefe in many productions.

"I always had a wonderful time working with Dennis," Schneiderman said.

"I was always very impressed with his deep announcer voice. He was the sort of man who made everything feel more stately, more majestic. He added more gravitas with his intense voice and presence," Schneiderman added.

Mr. Keefe was a lector at St. Stephen's Catholic Church on Grand Island. He prayed before he did the reading, saying, "It's not about me. It's about the word of the Lord," his wife recalled.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Keefe is survived by his son, Nathan; two brothers, William and Thomas; three sisters, Patricia, Mary and Maureen; and a grandson.

A Memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Stephen Catholic Church, 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island.

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