Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Community Mourns the Loss of Downtown Shopkeeper

The Elgin community this week is mourning the loss of Patricia Keeney, owner of Keeney's Sporting Goods, an advocate for the downtown and well-known volunteer with the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA).

Keeney, 62, died Monday at Provena St. Joseph's Hospital from complications related to cancer.

“Pat cared deeply about downtown, the DNA and her community,” said Tonya Hudson, DNA executive director. “She was spirited, passionate and had a good heart.”

The Keeney family has been in business in downtown Elgin since 1883. The business began as a general store, and became a sporting goods store in its current location at 19 Douglas Avenue in 1945.

Keeney took over the business when her father passed away in 1993. Since then she added vintage clothing, jewelry and antiques to the shop’s offerings and became increasingly involved in the revitalization of downtown through the DNA.

Her volunteer work with the DNA included leadership roles on event committees such as the July 4th Parade, Window Wonderland, the DNA Awards Gala, and the Downtown Elgin Car Show. She also served on the DNA’s Board of Directors.

Friend and fellow DNA Board member, Karin Jones, said Keeney’s willingness to serve was an incredible asset to the organization.

“She was always ready to jump in and help, whether it was selling tickets at a carnival, asking for sponsorships or passing out flyers to fellow downtown business owners,” Jones said.

Jones was among the many volunteers who stepped forward to help run the store and care for her in her home when Keeney was diagnosed with cancer in November.

“Her courage through all of this was inspiring, as was the outpouring of support for her from the community,” Jones said.

DNA staff and volunteers ran a fundraising campaign to collect contributions to help Keeney with her bills. They also organized a vintage fashion fundraiser at Villa Verone in mid-December under the leadership of DNA founder and fellow downtown business owner, Ruth Munson. The group’s efforts raised about $8,000 just under three months.

For Jones, the success of the fundraising efforts had everything to do with what Pat had given to the community.

"When you met her, she touched your heart, and then she stayed there," Jones said. "She was just one of those people you will never forget.”

Visitation is Thursday, December 30 at O’Connor-Leetz Funeral Home at 364 Division Street in Elgin from 4-8PM.

Mass will be held Friday, December 31 at St. Joseph Catholic Church at 272 Division Street in Elgin beginning at 10AM.

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