Unsung hero: Mary Fran O’Keefe
O’Keefe started working at BSM 40 years ago—four years after the merging of St. Margaret’s Academy and Benilde High School. Over the years, she became more than just her title and started to get more involved with the inner workings of the school.
When she started working at BSM, though, her role looked a bit different. “When I first started I was the librarian, then worked in development and marketing, and now my title is Director of Alumni Relations and Community Events. Many of my duties have remained the same, no matter what my title was,” O’Keefe said. Over the years she has also been the adviser of the cheerleading team, student council, Knight Errant, and the senior class.
Through her time here, O’Keefe has seen many changes within the school. “Obviously the building has changed. There have been many additions and improvements. When I first arrived, the entrance was on the Highway 100 side. There was no west wing and the library was in approximately the same place as today’s chapel, and there was no commons or band room. Also, the entire southeast area has changed with the entrance, the lower level, the theater, etc. The Haben Center area was a parking lot, and the fields, of course, are all different,” O’Keefe said.
Every year there are fifteen or more reunions and O’Keefe helps alumni plan their reunions and events. Working with alumni entails more than just planning reunions, though. O’Keefe plans the alumni hockey and alumni lacrosse games. “On January 15, we went to Chicago for Happy Hour at Revival Social Club (owner Chris Bowler ’83) and a Northwestern basketball game to see Sanjay Lumpkin ’12,” O’Keefe said.
Additionally, she plans events within the community. One of the events that O’Keefe plans is the Hall of Honor; an event that recognizes and honors the history of BSM as well as the Auction. “I also plan the Baccalaureate Mass and Brunch and I am also a senior class advisor,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe’s plays an integral role in the Red Knight community that extends far beyond her title. “I take care of the Spirit Shop, work with the Parent Association, keep score at basketball games and boys and girls swim meets,” O’Keefe said. Part of her job is also taking care of family members of faculty and staff by sending wedding gifts, baby gifts, and flowers for lost loved ones. O’Keefe keeps in touch with families who are currently at BSM and those who have graduated.
It’s no secret that O’Keefe is a major part of the BSM community. There is no such thing as an ordinary day for this unsung hero, and she doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon. “Why would I leave? I love the school and the community,” O’Keefe said.