John "Jack" Edward Keelan, 88

Story Photo

John Edward Keelan, the only son of John and Ruth (Leslie) Keelan, was born on June 12, 1935 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He passed away on February 2, 2024 at the Brodstone Healthcare at Superior, Nebraska, at the age of 88 years, 7 months, 21 days.
John was baptized in the Catholic faith and confirmed. He grew up in Pennsylvania, graduating from Johnstown High School and attended Kansas State University and Washburn. He played football for Kansas State from 1954 to 1958. He was an honored as an All American, All Big Seven and All Missouri Valley. John was recruited by K-State with a 4-year scholarship, passing up offers from Northwestern, Tennessee, Oregon and North Carolina State. Tex Winter, K-State basketball coach, asked John to lose weight and play basketball for him, but he declined saying he was recruited to play football.
He was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals but was then he was diagnosed with Nephritis and KU Med said "no more football." In the 50's doctors were unaware of the exact effects of the kidney disease and that he might have 15 years to live. With new technology today, the doctors would say "Go Play Ball." John would say, "If I had played professional football, I wouldn't have met my wife Joyce. It was a God thing."
He has been in the health care field for 47 years. He was the manager of the Newman Young clinic at Fort Scott, Kansas, and also Phillipsburg, Kansas; administrator at Lindborg, Kansas, Ord, Tecumseh in Nebraska and held the CEO position for 15 years until his retirement at Brodstone Healthcare in Superior. Words cannot express the appreciation John had for the medical staff and employees; they were considered his family.
John served on the Economic Development Council, Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis and Ambassadors in Superior. He was a member of the Nebraska and Kansas Hospital Association and Nebraska Rural Health Association along with many others to mention. As a member of Rotary in Fort Scott, Kansas, John received the Paul Harris award, one of the most prestigious and highest honors the Rotary can bestow upon a person.
He married the love of his life, Joyce Raye Fowler, on October 26, 1978, in Lyndon, Kansas. Together they enjoyed season tickets to K-State football, game day up and at the stadium five hours before the game to tailgate with friends and to cheer KSU. John enjoyed helping Joyce put up 24 Christmas trees. He looked at this as his contribution for "little children and the community."
Grandsons remember his bone crushing hugs, his joyful laughter and how soft spoken and his kindness and how he influenced their lives.
John's faith and values were strong. He enjoyed and was always ready to serve God as a lay speaker, teacher or board member. He was a modest man. When Joyce had a large statue made for him with his KSU football, memoir, uniform and helmet he hid it, but eventually brought it out.
John was employed by the Topeka, Kansas, police department, as a juvenile officer and detective. Following in his fathers' footsteps who served as a detective for Johnstown, Pennsylvania, police department for 35 years.
Cultured but humble, he never met a stranger and always saw the positive in the very core of a person. His compassionate spirit was a blessing for those who knew him. John was gifted with the wisdom to be still and listen. He was an achiever in problem solving with friends, family, employees, business or adversity. Professionalism and compassion were a natural born gift for him.
Self-sacrifice to family, hospital, and community. He never passed an opportunity to do a good deed, uplift someone's spirits and enlighten their day.
He was a storyteller with so many life experiences. He loved to share his stories and experiences, never forgetting people, names and events.
One of John's many best friends in Pennsylvania, Father Anthony Maudel, best described John in this way. "Jack was the salt of the earth." He reminded John that he prayed every day for him.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Ruth, and grandson, John Keelan.
Survivors include his wife, Joyce of Superior; his five children, William (Cheryl) Keelan, Janice (Ed) Faida, Stacy Weaver, Tracy (Brian) Chaffin, and Nada (Frank) Rawlings; 13 grandchildren and 14 great-great-grandchildren; other relatives and host of friends.
No services are planned at this time. John was always ready to serve others and he chose to donate his body to the Nebraska Medical Center to serve in the lives and health of others.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial will be established and may be given in care of the family
Condolences may be sent to Megrue-Price Funeral Home, 750 N. Commercial, Superior, Nebraska 68978 or in care of www.pricefuneralhomes.com.
Megrue-Price Funeral Home of Superior, Nebraska, was in charge of the arrangements

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