Matthew (Matt) O’Keefe, 54, of Chicago Illinois, died unexpectedly April 22, 2022, due to an auto accident near Bonaparte, Iowa. Born August 6, 1967, he was the son of Thomas and Judy (nee Ittershagen) O’Keefe. Originally from Monroeville, New Jersey, the family moved to Burlington, Iowa in 1979. Matt graduated from Burlington Community High School in 1985 as valedictorian and went on to earn his B.S. in Computer Science at University of Illinois at Chicago in 1997, graduating #1 in the College of Engineering. After graduating, he had a very successful career as a technologist, beginning his career at the start of the Internet boom. His first position was Senior Software Engineer for ZEFER/Neoglyphic. He went on to become Chief Technology Officer at Hyatt. He was most proud of his work on ERMA and Graphite, two open-source projects that were pioneers in real-time intelligence and complex event processing. In his last position, he worked as Senior Director of Architecture at Aetna (a CVS Health Company) where he led successful innovative teams using the latest cutting-edge technologies. Matt subsequently pursued his dream of opening a French Restaurant in Fairfield, Iowa and owning/operating an organic farm. Matt shared his extensive knowledge, expertise, and insights giving presentations to large audiences at tech and industry conferences and authored articles in industry publications. He brought the same boundless drive and enthusiasm to the restaurant project he had started in Fairfield.
While in high school Matt became competitive in cycling. As a teen he rose quickly to category two, winning numerous races including the challenging Snake Alley Criterium. He spent time at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where he narrowly missed making the Junior Worlds Team. He maintained friendships throughout his life with his Burlington team The Cyclery and became involved in racing again as an adult in Chicago on the XXX/Athletico team which became Burnham racing. He won quite a few Cat 4 and 5 races including Downers Grove IL (2004) CAT 4 winner in the National Criterium Championship and won the Quad Cities (2004) Criterium CAT 4. He was once able to do his warmup ride for a cycling race while taking a work-related outage call on his phone, coding, and riding as he went! Matt was also proud to be a bike marshal for numerous Chicago marathons.
While in school, Matt taught himself bass guitar and joined a Burlington based band called Nu World Mutants and later Barking Spiders, making several recordings and videos with the bands. Music has always been one of his main interests and he stayed in touch with his bandmates. He continued this interest while attending the University of Iowa where he met his wife, Lisa O’Keefe (nee Dowd). They moved to Chicago, married, and both shared a love for travel, fine dining, reading, and enjoyed their cats and dogs.
Travelling for business and pleasure took Matt all over the world from Finland to Sardinia, from India to China, and many places in between. In the last year of his life, he was able to revisit some of his most beloved places: Paris (where he saw the Tour de France finale), San Miguel de Allende Mexico, and New Orleans. He loved taking photos on those trips, exploring other cultures, and trying local foods. He visited Ireland, the birthplace of his grandparents, several times, and was proud to honor them by obtaining Irish (dual) Citizenship in 2017. He kept in touch with family and his many friends on social media, often sharing photos of favorite dining experiences from his travels and some very unique photos of architecture in Chicago. In the past year, combining several of his interests, he was beginning to record drone videos set to his own experimental music.
Matt was an extraordinary person but very understated about his many achievements. He lived life to the fullest and was loved by friends and family for his sense of humor, his genuine caring, his unique personality, and gusto.
He was preceded in his death by his parents. Survivors include three brothers, Tom (Christine) O'Keefe, Jr. of Boykins, VA, Brian (Donna) O'Keefe of Swampscott, MA, Chris (Ronda) O'Keefe of West Point, IA and sister, Marianne Kemerling of Peoria, IL. He was married to Lisa O'Keefe who he met in college. Their marriage lasted over twenty years, but their friendship endured until he died.
Cremation has been entrusted to the Prugh Crematory.
Relatives and friends are invited to a Celebration of Life at Prugh-Thielen Funeral Home, 3940 Division Street, Burlington, IA on Matt’s birthday, August 6, 2022.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Friends of Petraits (Chicago based rescue for dogs, cats, and other pets) https://friendsofpetraits.com) in honor of Matthew O’Keefe.
To send flowers to Matthew's family, please visit our floral store.