Nick O'Keeffe (1948 2021) (Joe's 1958 1964)


We were all deeply shocked to  hear that Nick had died suddenly on 2nd January 2021. He was a well liked and popular member of the Joe's community.

Nicholas Shaun O'Keeffe was born on 20th May 1948 at Hungerford, Berkshire, the only child of Hilda and Philip O'Keeffe, who were strangely known as Pat And Paddy. His father was an RAF officer who had served with distinction in World War II. His father's work took him to various parts of the country until the family settled in Blackpool. Nick attended Cardinal Allen Primary School in Anchorsholme and in 1958 went up to Joe's.

I think it it fair to say that Nick did not do well at Joe's. The atmosphere was uncongenial to anyone with any individual ability or creative sensitivity. I remember he had a flair for originality of thought and creative logic, not qualities conducive to success at Joe's. In 1964, his father's work took the family to Oxfordshire which brought a merciful release from Joe's.

Nick's wide and varied career began at the loading department at Unipart, Cowley, from which he moved to the Trustee Savings Bank at Oxford. He was unsettled there and soon moved into the book sales and marketing business where his keen observational skills and faultless eye for detail led to a successful career in the book trade.

In 1972 he married Valerie Buckett. This marriage was not a success and they soon parted. In 1985 he married Julie Breedon and they settled in Oxford where their first three children, Alex, Joe and Stephanie were born. In 1987 Nick's mother died and his father wanted to spend his declining years in Ireland near the place of his birth. So the whole family decamped to County Cork, and bought an old naval house in Adrigole on the Beara Peninsula. It was here that Julie and Nick's fourth child, Eddie, was born. Nick worked as a book collector and distributor, travelling around Ireland in a battered old Ford van. Sadly his father's health declined and the old gentleman had to move to a care home. In 1999, Nick's father died and the family moved back to the Oxford district and settled in the ancient market town of Farringdon in the Vale of the White Horse.

Nick joined the local amateur dramatic society where he met George Pulley, a private detective. George mentioned that he needed help in a difficult case. Being an enterprising fellow, Nick volunteered and went undercover as a cabbie to investigate a case of fraud within a taxi company. This led to the start of an exhilarating new career as a sleuth in the Oxford Detective Bureau. Nick told many stories of his escapades. There was one occasion when a lady client hired him to follow her husband who she suspected was having an affair. Nick followed the errant husband to a pub where he was found canoodling with another woman. He discretely phoned his client and told her the facts and, against his advice, she came storming in to the pub and caused a scene. Nick carefully left before the situation erupted.

On another occasion he was lying in a ditch earwigging a conversation when his mobile phone rang. He got off that one by getting up clutching the phone and triumphantly exclaiming "Found it". Another time when he was tailing a suspect in a cafe, he asked a woman if he could sit next to her to avoid suspicion. The woman refused and indignantly stormed off. Five minutes later, two police offices turned up to question his behaviour. That business took some explaining!

When George Pulley retired, Nick bought out the Oxford Detective Bureau and this led to exponential success. The Association of British Investigators awarded him the title of Investigator of the year in 2005 and he was appointed president of the World Investigators Network for the year 2009/2010. His work was fascinating but strenuous and he was obliged to retire in 2012. From then on he beguiled his time running an antiquarian bookshop in Stow-on-the-Wold.

In recent years, Nick's health deteriorated considerably and he was obliged to undergo dialysis due to kidney failure. He waited several years for a transplant and in 2020, a suitable donor was found and he underwent an operation. The transplant was a complete success but in December 2020, he suffered a fall and was taken to hospital. Sadly in hospital he contracted Covid-19 and died on 2nd January 2012.

May he rest in peace.

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