Martha A. OKeefe
Martha Anne OKeefe, a longtime Atchison resident, passed away on July 3, 2019, at Santa Marta retirement community in Olathe, Kansas.
Mass of Christian burial will be 10 a.m. Monday, July 8, 2019, at St. Benedicts Church, Atchison, with Rev. Gabriel Landis, OSB as celebrant.
Inurnment will follow in Mt. Calvary Cemetery. A parish rosary will be recited at 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 7, 2019, at Arensberg-Pruett Funeral Home, visitation with the family to follow until 6:30 p.m.
Memorial contributions are suggested to St. Benedicts Abbey or Mount St. Scholastica and may be left in care of the funeral home.
Martha was born on May 14, 1938, in Jonesboro, Arkansas. She was the first of two children born to Vinnie and Carl Sellmeyer. In 1942, the family settled in Knobel, Arkansas, a town of approximately 350 people.
Whether it was the low Arkansas education bar or her brilliance, Martha skipped the second grade. In 1951, Martha began high school at Ursuline Academy in Arcadia, Missouri. In 1953, she transferred to boarding school at Mount St. Marys in Little Rock, Arkansas and graduated in 1955. The following August, she matriculated to the then Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas. While in college, Martha participated with the Mount Madrigal Singers and the Twin College Mixed Chorus with her St. Benedicts counterparts. During her junior year, Martha served as the Kansas state president for the Home Economics College Club. Martha graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Home Economics in 1959.
During her junior year of college, Martha naively attended an Atchison Knights of Columbus dance which was also attended by an equally nave 29 year old attorney who had been given an ultimatum by his parents to move out of their house.
Buck asked beautiful Martha to dance and his bachelordom and housing problems were over. They married in Knobel, Arkansas on June 13, 1959. Over the next 59 years, they produced seven children, twenty grandchildren, disputes, happiness and love.
During her 50 year residency in Atchison, Martha served at various times as Chairwoman of Happy Hearts, Chairwoman of the Mount St. Scholastica High School and a Board Member of Benedictine College Board of Governors. In 1999, Mount St. Scholastica Academy awarded Martha the Fidelis Award for her decades of service. Martha also received the Offeramus Service award from Benedictine College.
Martha loved art and music and attended many musicals and art museums the world over. She played the piano quite well, sang in the church choir and cantored for 30 years at St. Benedicts Church. In the 1970s, she served as the Picture lady who visited the Atchison grade schools in an attempt to impute to young students the importance of art and culture. She headed and/or organized the Atchison Art Fair for many years.
Although Martha served in many leadership posts, she had a passion for Democratic politics and served multiple intermittent years as the Atchison Democratic Precinct Chairwoman. She also led several federal and state candidate campaigns in Atchison County. Under Marthas leadership, Atchison County was the only county in Kansas to carry for President Carter in 1976. She was a Democratic delegate to the National Conventions in 1976 and 1980 and an alternate delegate to the 1988 Atlanta convention. Buck rooted his beloved on from the sidelines.
Marthas most meritorious achievement however was raising her seven kids to which she would brag that she must have done something right because they all had the wherewithal to marry up someone in character. Fait accompli.
Throughout their marriage, Martha and Buck traveled the world visiting 57 different countries and every continent but Antartica. (They were close, 60 miles.) There was not a country Martha did not visit where she did not attempt to boost the local economy by buying an item from a vendor which led to an interesting de;cor aesthetic.
Buck always adopted the local patois. They cherished their trips and never lost their zest for meeting new people. Martha was blessed with wonderful family and friends. A girl from a tiny town in Arkansas that truly lived life to its fullest.
Martha is preceded in death by: her daughter, Alice Knapp; and her husband, Maurice P. Okeefe, Jr.
She is survived by: her children, Patrick, Mary, Kitty, Joe, Stave, Barbara; and 20 grandchildren. As published in the Atchison Globe.