John Christopher Keeney obituary photo
 
In Memory of

John Christopher Keeney

February 19, 1922 - November 19, 2011

Obituary


John C. "Jack" Keeney, the longest-serving federal prosecutor in U.S. history, died on Nov. 19 at his home in Kensington, Md. He was 89.

A legend in federal legal circles, Keeney was a mainstay at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served for nearly 60 years under 12 U.S. presidents and 23 attorneys general. His numerous honors included the highest awards from the Department of Justice, the D.C. Bar, and the Federal Bar Association. The Department of Justice building at 1301 New York Avenue, N.W., bears his name; and his portrait is the...

John C. "Jack" Keeney, the longest-serving federal prosecutor in U.S. history, died on Nov. 19 at his home in Kensington, Md. He was 89.

A legend in federal legal circles, Keeney was a mainstay at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served for nearly 60 years under 12 U.S. presidents and 23 attorneys general. His numerous honors included the highest awards from the Department of Justice, the D.C. Bar, and the Federal Bar Association. The Department of Justice building at 1301 New York Avenue, N.W., bears his name; and his portrait is the only one of a career government lawyer in a Department of Justice building.

He retired in September 2010 as a longtime Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. He often served as the senior career official responsible for supervising many of the most sensitive and important criminal matters handled by the department, including organized crime and racketeering, public corruption, electronic surveillance, and the federal witness protection program.



Keeney's federal career began during World War II, when he left college in 1943 to join the Army Air Corps and served as a navigator on B-17 bombing missions over Nazi Germany. In 1945, he survived a harrowing experience when his plane was shot down near the Russian front; he and his buddies bailed out at 11,000 feet and his parachute nearly failed to open. He was taken prisoner and held in a Nazi POW camp for about three months until he was liberated by the 14th Armored Division at the end of the war.



A native of Ashley, Pa., he earned his bachelor of science degree at the University of Scranton in 1947, his law degree from The Dickinson School of Law in 1949 and a master of laws from The George Washington University School of Law in 1953. After finishing college and law school under the GI Bill, Keeney joined the Department of Justice on March 19, 1951. He became a charter member of the Senior Executive Service and served every Administration since President Truman.



Keeney was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 43 years, Eugenia. He is survived by their children: John C. Keeney, Jr. and Kathleen Gunning of Bethesda, Md.; Terence J. Keeney and Regina Markey Keeney of McLean, Va.; Jeanmarie Keeney of Kensington, Md.; Joan V. Keeney of Silver Spring, Md., and Kathleen R. Keeney and David G. Smith of Catonsville, Md.; and four grandchildren, Teresa, Anne, Jackie and Katherine. He was the loving uncle of several nieces and nephews; cherished friend and colleague to his Department of Justice family.



Keeney was a parishioner at St. Catherine Laboure Church in Wheaton, Md., and supported numerous charities. He was an avid sports fan, particularly of the University of Notre Dame, where his sons went and where his two oldest granddaughters are currently juniors.



A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 at 10 a.m. in St. Catherine Laboure Church, Wheaton, Md. The family will receive friends and relatives on Friday, Nov. 25, 2011 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Joseph Gawler's Sons, 5130 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to the Archdiocesan Legal Network (www.catholiccharitiesdc.org) or So Others Might Eat (SOME) (www.some.org).


Arrangements under the direction of Joseph Gawler's Sons Inc., Washington, DC.