Katie Lynn O'KeefeJune 6, 1989 ~ June 16, 2017 (age 28)
Katie Lynn O’Keefe first smiled at the world June 6, 1989, and for just over 28 years, she never stopped. She was a model daughter, exemplary friend, loyal sister, devoted aunt and an extraordinary teacher. She was a spirited adventurer, smitten girlfriend, talkative companion, careful listener, talented artist, dog lover and the best hugger. In all of these roles, she was joyful and vibrant, leaving a permanent impact on those lucky enough to know and love her. Katie’s passion for education began when her family’s home was directly across the street from Livingston Elementary School in Cody, Wyo., where she would wander into classrooms, even before she began kindergarten. She became an outstanding student and an even better friend
to her classmates. Her family moved across the state, attending school in Cody, Laramie and eventually graduating from Natrona County High School in 2008. With an unreservedly positive outlook, shining smile and a love for talking, Katie easily met new people and built lasting
relationships from the time she was a young girl until she was a young woman. She attended college at Black Hills State University and the University of Wyoming, from which she graduated with honors in 2015.
Despite a competitive job market, Katie was immediately hired to teach first grade at Southridge Elementary School after graduation. Right away, it was clear she had found her calling. Unlike most grown-ups, Katie never lost the enthusiasm, energy or compassion of a first grader. She identified with her students in a such a meaningful way that it marveled her coworkers. One mother wrote to Katie that her daughter would cry everyday when she had to go school until she was in Ms. O’Keefe’s class, and then she would cry on the days that she didn’t get to go to school. Although Katie’s teaching career was short, her influence will be reflected in these lucky students throughout their lives.
When she wasn’t in her classroom, Katie could be hard to find since she was usually out wandering Wyoming’s great outdoors. Her dad taught Katie and her older brother to love nature from a young age, whether it was skiing down the slopes of Sleeping Giant in Cody or tubing
across the waters of Alcova. While she thrived beneath the wide open skies, it was the company that she really loved during her many adventures. She and her boyfriend, as well as their beloved border collie Owsley, spent most of their time with their large group of friends backpacking in the summer months and winter camping in the snow. When Katie was in lower elevations, she was usually on the beaches of Alcova Lake, a summer staple among her whole family.
Katie cherished her family and friends, and her routine small gestures made big impacts on her loved ones. She never missed a birthday and always found the perfect card. She was regularly en route to deliver coffee to her mom or friends. She was a new, proud homeowner, and her
walls were artfully decorated with photos of the many important people in her life. But perhaps the biggest joy that Katie brought to others was in her hugs. Her goodbyes were legendary and often lasted longer than the initial meeting. A single hug was never enough for Katie, and she
would always insist on at least one more, which would often turn into another five or six. Her embrace was almost surprisingly strong from such a petite woman, but it was the perfect illustration of how fiercely she loved and how much she was loved in return. When a car accident tragically took Katie’s life June 16, 2017 outside of Baggs, Wyo., she left behind many, including her mother, Diane Bouzis; father, Bill O’Keefe; brother, Bill O’Keefe;
sister-in-law, Marianne O’Keefe; nephew, baby Bill O’Keefe; grandmother, Ann O’Keefe; stepdad John Bouzis; stepsisters Elizabeth, Rachel and Annie Bouzis; her boyfriend, Eric Hagen; several cousins, aunts, uncles and other extended family members; her students andcoworkers at Southridge Elementary; former coworkers at Kim’s Closet and Plato’s Closet in Rapid City; and countless friends, all of whom were immensely important to her.
Katie’s life will be celebrated Friday, June 23 at St. Anthony’s Church in Casper beginning at 2:00 p.m., followed by a reception at the Casper Shrine Club. The family will also hold a rosary Thursday, June 22 at Bustard’s Funeral Home at 5:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend all events.
In lieu of flowers, Katie’s family asks that donations be made in her name to the
Southridge Elementary Parent Teacher Organization to continue Katie’s mission of loving and
accepting every student. And through their efforts, Katie will live on.
Southridge Elementry Parent Teacher Organization
1600 W. 29th Street, Casper WY 82604