Monday, September 15, 2014

My Dear Friend Gerald

 Gerald Wilburn McKeon
November 3, 1921 - September 2, 2014

I was sitting having lunch with friends when I saw the post on Facebook that Brother McKeon had passed away on Tuesday  (the 2nd).  It wasn't unexpected, but I found I had a moment of intense sadness wash over me at the thought of him having finally left us all.

The family gathers around photos of their beloved Mom and Dad
 - so sad to lose them both so close to one another!
Funeral Services for Brother McKeon were held on Tuesday, September 9th.  My friend Laurel writes:
Jerry Ibey gave the eulogy.  He talked of a dear friend that he has known almost his entire life.  He recalled being hired by the McKeon Brothers Market, located on Whittier Blvd in East Los Angeles, to do electrical work even before he was old enough to really know what he was doing.  He learned his future life's work partly by working there, as well as at the McKeon's home. Gerald always made him feel welcome in his home and they loved to talk about everything from sports and family to the intricacies of the Gospel. 

Laurel goes on to say:
Patrick Barney gave a talk about the reach and depth of the Atonement.  He commented on three ways that Gerald worked to emulate the Savior in appreciation of the Atonement:  1. He was generous; 2. He shared his testimony; and, 3. He expressed love. 
Gerald was such a good man.  As his son Mark shared, "[My father] chose faith, believed in work, believed in thrift, believed in tithing, and believed in reverence."

Now Gerald is with his beloved Gwen Lee (see my post on her passing dated Thursday, August 7, 2014).  I knew once she left this life, he wouldn't be far behind.  Theirs was a great and beautiful love story. They met in the summer of 1949 and were married the following November in Pasadena.  A week later, they were sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake City Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Incidentally, that's where my own Mom and Dad were married...  and my grandparents... and great-grandparents, as well as my oldest nephew, and my niece.  That iconic temple of God has had a deeply religious significance for my whole family, too.

The Salt Lake Temple
I met the McKeon family when I moved to Whittier many years ago.  They had lived in Whittier since 1957 and were vital members of the Pickering Ward of the LDS Church there.  For years their son Mark served as my Bishop.

Gerald was the Student Body President of Garfield High School, graduating in 1939.
He also attended Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Gerald and Gwen Lee were kindly people who took folks under their wing, helped the helpless, and made friends everywhere.  They'd often have the entire Elders' Quorum, or High Priests' Group and their wives, over to the house for steak dinners.

Gerald was an LTJG in the U.S. Navy during WWII
When World War II broke out, young Gerald was sent to Northwestern University near Chicago, Illinois, where he underwent a 3-month officer's training program.  He became an LTJG - a junior commissioned officer, or Lieutenant (Junior Grade).  He was subsequently assigned to the brand new USS Quincy.  He lived through a lot of action - what his family call "historical moments" - as he honorably served throughout the conflict.

From Billy Chaplin's slides "Gunnery Officers"

In the above photograph off the U.S.S. Quincy website (visit, you'll see Brother McKeon on the top row, far right.

The sign reads:

Quincy Gun Club
Fired opening salvo at Germans
6 June 1944
Brie de la Seine-Normandy
Brie de Cavaliere-Provence
Hamaishi 1 and 2
Fired closing salvo at Japs
9 August 1945

Historical Moments, indeed!

God bless you, Gerald.  Thanks for keeping our world safe, both during the war and after it.

We will all miss you.

1 comment:

Marybeth said...

I so loved this dear man. He and his wife will be sorely missed. Thanks for posting this sweet tribute!