George F. Keane — longtime Westporter, founder of the Common Fund, and a noted philanthropic investment strategist — died peacefully on Thursday in Trumbull, where he had spent time convalescing from a long illness.
His son, Staples High School Class of 1971 graduate Brian Keane, writes:
My father was my north star. A young boy’s hero. A protector, the one who knew what to do. My Little League coach. My advisor (and my staunchest critic).
Though we had our battles from time to time, and we each had success in very different worlds, we never lost touch, nor did we ever lose the deep bond of love that we had for each other. In the end I served as his caretaker, along with other very able and loving people.
He had a long, and remarkable life. He touched many other’s lives along the way. He gave people their starts, helped people in their time of need, and made his mark on the world. You couldn’t ask for much more out of life.
He came from modest means, a child of the Great Depression, growing up in Danbury. He would be the first in his family ever to graduate college. He would later serve on the college’s board.
Though we grew up in Westport, our family was middle class at best. However, my father would rise throughout his life to become a successful philanthropic investment strategist, founder of the Common Fund, now in its 50th year, employing hundreds of people, advising over 1,500 institutions, with $40 billion under management.
He was awarded 2 honorary doctorates, and the Fredrick D. Patterson Award for his 12 years of service as a director of the United Negro College Fund. He served on many prestigious boards, and worked with Research Affiliates of California to form a new index fund.
He battled the affliction of alcoholism as a younger man to attain 41 years of sobriety, and was an example to others.
He loved life too, and had lots of fun. He was a gifted singer, a well traveled tourist, a patron of the arts, a sports enthusiast. He lived well, ate well, loved well. He didn’t golf real well, but had fun at that too, as the world’s most generous scorekeeper.
A loving husband, father, grandfather and extended family man, he was a kind, intelligent, generous and very successful man, who helped out many people in his life, and leaves a long list of bereaved admirers.
For me though, he was simply Dad. I will always love him dearly for who he was, and always deeply appreciate what he did for me, and for the example that he set.
On May 20 my father passed peacefully, at 91, sitting in a chair in his assisted living apartment where he had been convalescing from a long illness. It was as though he were merely taking a nap.
The night before we had dinner together, just the 2 of us. We went out on the patio, spent a few hours together, and he took the long walk back to his apartment in unwavering stride. After a lifetime of pursuing life with such tenacity and persistence, I never expected the Irish goodbye.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday (May 26, 10:30 a.m., St. Peter Church, 104 Main Street, Danbury). George F. Keane will be laid to rest alongside his older brother, James R. Keane, and his parents Alexander Keane and Anna Krebs Keane in St Peter’s Cemetery in Danbury immediately following the service.
There will be a celebration of life event at some point later in the year.