E. Keegan, 87, a lifetime resident of Watertown, died early
Tuesday morning, Nov. 27, while surrounded by his loving
family. His final four weeks of life were spent under the
care of the Hospice of Jefferson County.
Born Dec. 3, 1924, the son of Isidor Edward and Anna
Gilligan Keegan, his working career began early in life as a
carrier for the Watertown Mirror, a weekly newspaper with a
short lifespan back in the 1930s. It was there that he
received his Social Security card in March 1937. He then was
a carrier for the Watertown Daily Times for a number of
years. He set pins in the bowling alleys at the Black River
Valley Club and for a short period of time worked on
maintenance (scrubbing floors) at the Agricultural Insurance
Co. After learning how to play the Bugle, he served as
Bugler on the staff of the Jeff-Lewis Boy Scout Camp in 1940
when it was located at Lake Bonaparte. The following year he
was the Camp Bugler for the American Canoe Association for
their annual meeting in the Thousand Islands.
He was a grandson of the late Police Chief John A. Gilligan,
as well as the grandnephew and namesake of the late Fire
Chief William E. Gaffney.
He graduated from Watertown High School in January 1942, and
immediately went to work at Garland City Parts Corp. After
completing a student flying course and logging a small
amount of solo hours, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps
Cadet program in December 1943, and was called to active
duty in March 1944. He first went to Fort Dix, N.J., and
after testing was sent to Keesler Field in Biloxi
Mississippi for further testing and Basic Military
From there he was assigned to the College Training Program
at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. After the
College program was shut down in favor of “On the Line
Training” he was sent to Aloe Field in Victoria, Texas. In
1945 overseas returnees were given preference in the Cadet
program, so he was sent to Clerk-Typist school at Lowry
Field, Denver, Colorado. He was stationed there on V-J Day.
He, along with a large group of trainees, was sent to
Shepherd Field in Wichita Falls to temporarily work in a
separation center being opened there and had the assurance
that they would be included in the next pre-flight class
being formed at Randolph Field. Later in 1945 they were
called to a meeting at Shepherd Field and informed that
because of the large number of pilots already trained they
had the option of remaining in the Air Corps as enlisted men
with the opportunity for rapid advancement, or they could
accept an Honorable Discharge and take the chance of being
drafted into the regular Army. Since by then the war was
over, he along with the vast majority present at the meeting
elected to receive the Honorable Discharge, and he was
separated from the service in November 1945. He was awarded
the American Theater Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and
As soon as he returned home from the war, he was re-employed
by Garland City Parts Corp. Along with his four brothers;
Vernon, Jack, Richard and Martin, they proceeded to expand
the Automotive Parts Supply company. He was Secretary for
both Garland City Parts Corp. and Keegan Realty, Inc.
He was married to Agnes Elizabeth Flynn, daughter of
Councilman and Mrs. William J. Flynn, on June 21, 1947, at
Sacred Heart Church. This year they celebrated their 65th
Mr. Keegan was a member of Holy Family Church, served as an
usher for a number of years.
He was a 65-year member, life member and Past Commander of
Army and Navy Post 61 American Legion. He was a former 35
Year member of BPOE # 496.
He enjoyed golf and was a former member of the Watertown
Golf Club. He was a Life Member of the North Side
Improvement League. Long interested in bowling, he served as
president of the Fraternal Bowling League and also the
Automotive Bowling League. He also was instrumental in
obtaining the NY State American Legion Bowling Tournament
for Watertown in 1975.
For several years he was a coach or manager for the Baker
Pharmacy Little League team in the Federal little league. At
one time he also enjoyed fishing in Lake Ontario for Bass in
the summertime and downhill skiing at the Dry Hill ski area
in the winter.
Survivors besides his wife are three sons; Timothy John,
Johnstown, N.Y., Peter Gerald, Burlington, Vy., William
Edward (Ted) and his husband David Thiergartner, West
Hurley, N.Y.; two daughters, Deanne Flynn Jones and her
husband, Gerold, East Aurora, N.Y., and Sarah Ann Morgia and
her husband Bruce, Watertown; six grandchildren, Meghan Anne
Jones, Buffalo, Jonathan William Jones, Genoa, Italy,
Benjamin John Keegan, San Francisco, Calif., Graham Keegan,
Los Angeles, Calif., Travis Michael Morgia and his wife,
Molly, Syracuse, and Tia Marie Morgia, Watertown; and
numerous nieces and nephews.
A daughter, Mary Ann, predeceased him in August 2006. He was
the last surviving son of the five sons of Mr. and Mrs. I.
E. Keegan, all of whom served in World War II at the same
time. Vernon, John and Richard served in the Army Air
Corps., and Martin served in the Navy.
Calling hours will be held 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at
Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Watertown . A prayer service
will be 9:45 p.m. Friday, Nov.30, at the funeral home
followed by a 10:30 a.m. funeral Mass celebrated at Holy
Family Church with Rev. Timothy Canaan officiating. Burial
will be in Glenwood Cemetery.
Any memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of
Jefferson County, 1398 Gotham Street, or Jefferson
Rehabilitation Center, 420 Gaffney Drive, both in Watertown,
Condolences may be made to his family at www.cummingsfuneral.com.
Information provided by Cummings
Funeral Service and Newzjunky.com, Watertown