In Memory of Marie L. Keefe
Marie L. Keefe, former Executive Director of Action Africa Inc, and longtime resident of Cabin John, MD, peacefully passed away on Wednesday, June 16 at her daughter’s home in Rockville, MD, at the age of 77. Marie Louise Keefe was born in 1943 in Waltham, MA to Marie and Robert Larsen. The first of 7 children, Marie attended Weston High School in Massachusetts. In 1959, at 16 years old, she spent a year studying in Sevilla, Spain, where her passion for travel and international culture took root. After a brief stint on scholarship to local Regis College, she transferred to Georgetown University where she earned a degree in Language and Linguistics. During college, she spent a summer volunteering in a remote village in Mexico. After graduating, she taught in the Linguistics Department at Georgetown, where she met her husband, William Keefe. They married in 1967 and had 4 children - Robert William, Myriam Elise, Sean Michael and James Matthew. As a young mother, she earned her Master’s Degree, authored a textbook and freelanced as an editor for many years. Marie took her spirit of activism to every school and every scouting troop her children attended, where she made herself an invaluable member of the community, with a special knack for anything art-related. Eager to give her children the gift of foreign language and culture, in 1983, the family moved to Venezuela. After returning stateside, she co-founded a women-owned consulting firm, working on international and national issues connected to migrant health, judicial reform, and refugee children. As a retiree, Marie joined the vibrant NOVA church community, where her activism jumped into full gear. She devoted much of her time to working with Dreamers and as a member of Sacred Ground, an anti-racism group. She co-chaired NOVA’s peace and social justice team. Her work has led to travels to Turkey, Eastern Europe, Africa and Central America. She reveled in the creation of art, especially guiding others in an exploration of their own creativity; and loved the written word, particularly poetry.
In late 2003, Marie traveled to Nigeria with the Action Africa team leaders, and spent an entire month visiting rural schools, clinics, and farms. She and the team lived in the village of Eziama-Ubulu, in the present Oru West Local Government Area of Imo State. She blended so very well into the village that the resident Chief conferred on her the title of “Adaora-1” of Ubulu, the People’s Daughter or Princess. The entire village celebrated her investiture with a big public celebration. Upon her return to the U.S., Marie began volunteering full-time as the first Executive Director of Action Africa Inc.