University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Remembering Norbert O’Keefe

Norbert O’Keefe, M.D., retired chair of radiology, died April 3, 2013, at St. Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck, after a long illness.  He was 84.

Norbert O'Keefe

Norbert O'Keefe

Norb was born on Oct. 6, 1928, in Williston, the son of John and Marian (Myers) O’Keefe. He was raised and educated in Williston. He graduated in 1946 from Williston High School, where he was active in football and basketball.He was a Depression-era child who gained his pilot license the day he turned 16 and was a GI who served in Tokyo right after World War II.Norb married Angela O’Neill on Aug. 1, 1953, in Williston. He put himself through medical school, built a clinic in a small town in Minnesota, and went back to school at the age of 40 to become a radiologist. As a radiologist, he worked at St. Alexius Medical Center, starting in 1970 until his retirement.

He served as a clinical faculty member for the UND medical school beginning in 1974.  In 1981, he was hired to chair the newly-formed radiology department for UND School of Medicine and continued to serve as chair until he retired in 1994.

He belonged to numerous professional associations, including the North Dakota Medical Association and the American Medical Association, and was a fellow of the American College of Radiology. Throughout his life, Norb had a passion for aviation. Although he flew many types of aircraft, he particularly enjoyed his years flying his DeHavilland Beaver floatplane. He was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association and was recognized as an outstanding aviator in the Bismarck flying community. Norb was presented the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award for 50 years of dedicated service in aviation safety by the FAA.Norb was a longtime member of Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Elks Club and the American Legion. He and his family have many happy memories of their summers at Lake Audubon.

His family was blessed to have had such a loving, kind husband and father who shared his many gifts and talents with them and those he worked with.

Through it all and to the moment he breathed his last, he had a loving wife of nearly 60 years, Angela; his sons, John (Darla), Matthew (Joelle), Michael, Timothy and Daniel (Asako); his daughters, Mary Ellen, Peggy (Evan) and Bridget (Chris); his grandchildren, Shane, Jackson and Jacy O’Keefe, Sarah Soucek, Samantha Price and Melissa Strand, Jessica Cox and Andrea Ramirez, Casey, Sam and Jack Hardmeyer, Andrew and Allison O’Keefe, Bill, Samantha and Ben Mennell; Marie, Sean and Sasha O’Keefe, and George, Finn and John Dunn; his great-grandson, Daniel Soucek; his brother, Pat; and his sisters, Margaret and Kitty.

Memorials are preferred to the God’s Child Project or the Bismarck Emergency Food Pantry.

Go to to share memories of Norb and to sign the online guest book.

-- Information courtesy Parkway Funeral Home, Bismarck Tribune, and UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Southwest Campus.