Veterans Day post: daughter remembers MSgt. Jack Edward Keeney

Veterans Day post: daughter remembers MSgt. Jack Edward Keeney November 11, 2011

Jack’s daughter, Jennifer is extremely proud of her father. In one of the more touching moments I’ve witnessed in the facebook group for Military Atheists (and veterans and spouses and supporters…) Jennifer writes:

My late father, MSgt. Jack Edward Keeney was a medic and a hospital lab chemist in the Air Force.

He was an unwavering atheist who served honorably for 20 years.

Jack Keeney

My friend Dan Rawlings said: “RIP – I hope someone writes this about me someday…”

Jennifer responded: “He would have really enjoyed this group, and loved Justin Griffith.”

That’s so touching. And look at these classy pictures – he really does look like a person I’d want to get to know. 

Thanks for sharing Jennifer, and happy Veterans Day!


Jennifer’s sister, Bernice joined the Facebook group and added

I’m Jennifer Keeney Gantner’s sister, and another proud daughter of Msgt Keeney. I thank Jennifer for posting about our Dad, and for letting me know about this group. He indeed would have finally found kinship here.

His four children (three daughters and a son), were offered every opportunity to accept any religion of our choosing. He was not outspoken about his atheism when we were all very young, as he wanted each of us to feel free to choose our own faith.

The fact that we are all atheists as adults now is not the result of parents forcing religious beliefs upon their children…it is the result of parents allowing their children to choose their own paths. For that and so many other reasons, I am proud to be Msgt. Keeney’s daughter – and Jennifer’s sister

What an outstanding family, Jack! I am going to strive to see that my daughter Zoe has this type of bond with me.

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  • Jennifer Keeney Gantner

    Dad was fortunate to have some friends who agreed with him – among them Col. Bruce Butcher (USAF) among them. They worked at the Wright-Patt AFB hospital together, and later at a civilian hospital after they retired.

    I think one of the factors that made Dad so good at his job(he was awarded a Meritorious Service commendation) was the simple fact that the lab specimen he was testing was not just a tube of blood; the accuracy of his results was absolutely critical to that patient. One mistake on his part could result in death, and he was well aware that the patient only had ONE life. He wasn’t going to console himself with the “died and gone to heaven” song & dance if he effed up, or blame a patient’s death on “god’s will.”

    Later on, he faced his own death from cancer with remarkable bravery. He knew that chemo would only buy him a few undignified months, so he refused treatment. He went through the pain of stage 4 cancer without ever once asking for a minister, or taking out what he called “fire insurance” last-minute beliefs. When distant relatives starting mailing him Christian books and tracts, he told us to throw them in the garbage. 🙂

    23 minutes ago

    BTW, the woman in the white dress is our mother June; that photo was taken on their wedding day in 1955. They were married 53 years. Credit to her for coping with military spouse life, four kids, long periods of Dad going TDY, and doing it without the help she could have gotten from a church or the chaplaincy (often the only support services available for military wives back then).