Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Michael Joseph Keefer

Michael Keefer, Florida Lupus Foundation CEO, dies at 61

ST. PETERSBURG — Michael Keefer had all of the tools a nonprofit CEO needs. He related easily to people and could supply facts and figures with total recall to sell a worthy cause.

A common thread — that of helping people undergoing difficult or challenging times — tied several jobs together.

A personal connection animated his work as head of the Lupus Foundation of Florida, leading to some of the best work of his career: His wife has the disease.

Mr. Keefer, who was president and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of Florida, died Nov. 16 of melanoma. He was 61.

"Mike was an extremely competent fundraiser," said Blanton Garnett, Lupus Foundation of Florida board member and longtime friend. "But when you married that with his personal connection to lupus, it gave him something extra. It was actually inspiring and highly effective."

Mr. Keefer was a master of arcane trivia and simple pleasures.

"He could have gone on Jeopardy," said Maggi McQueen, his wife. "He was everybody's lifeline."

He was also a sports fan, and had rigged his smart phone to sound alerts updating the progress of any game he was following. Mr. Keefer attended Bucs, Rays and Gators games when he could, savoring the hot dogs and the camaraderie.

"It was the experience of the event, much more than win-lose or anything else," said Garnett, 52.

Mr. Keefer was born in Pittsburgh. He moved to St. Petersburg in 1973.

For a time, he had his own mortgage company. He was working at Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home when he met Maggi McQueen, who was running the family business with her two brothers.

The second marriage for each proved a charm. Both were stout Democrats who finished each other's sentences. She laughed at his frequent imitations of Marlon Brando in The Godfather, and could often supply answers to the few trivia questions that stumped him.

Through her, Mr. Keefer learned about lupus, an autoimmune disease considered both serious and usually manageable. He volunteered with the Greater Florida Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America, becoming executive director of the chapter in 2004.

The chapter has since formed as its own organization, the Lupus Foundation of Florida. McQueen chairs its board of directors.

In April, Mr. Keefer finally found a patient he couldn't help — himself. Doctors diagnosed late-stage melanoma. He fought the disease with an upbeat attitude.

On Monday at Anderson-McQueen, the Rev. Ron McQueen, an extended family member, called Mr. Keefer "the kind of person who leaves you better than when he found you."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at or (727) 892-2248.

Michael Joseph Keefer

Born: Sept. 17, 1950

Died: Nov. 16, 2011

Survivors: wife Maggi McQueen; daughter Michelle Kirschbaum; stepdaughter Annemarie Anders; mother Mary Catherine "Cass"; brother Douglas; two grandchildren.


Michael Keefer

Born: Sept. 17, 1950

Died: Nov. 16, 2011

Survivors: wife Maggi McQueen; daughter Michelle Kirschbaum; stepdaughter Annemarie Anders; mother Mary Catherine "Cass"; brother Douglas; two grandchildren.

Michael Keefer, Florida Lupus Foundation CEO, dies at 61 11/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  2. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  3. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  4. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle
  5. Death toll, humanitarian crisis grow in Puerto Rico


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A humanitarian crisis grew Saturday in Puerto Rico as towns were left without fresh water, fuel, power or phone service following Hurricane Maria's devastating passage across the island.

    Crew members assess electrical lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Friday in Puerto Rico. Mobile communications systems are being flown in but “it’s going to take a while.”