Order of Premontre, Premonstratensians, Norbertines, and White Canons

R. D. Anselm M. Keefe, O. Praem.

Birth: January 21, 1895

Death: October 15, 1974

House: St. Norbert Abbey

Our brother Anselm Keefe was born in Oconto, Wisconsin in 1895.  After graduating from St. Norbert High and his sophomore year at the college, he joined the Order in 1916.  Anselm was solemnly professed in 1920 and immediately began grad school at Catholic University in biology, although he would have preferred English. 

Starting in 1921, he spent 11 consecutive summers at the Marine Biological Laboratories in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  In 1923, he earned an M.A. from Catholic University, and that fall began a 3-year stint at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in botany.  During 1924-‘25, he was assistant in the university botany lab and in ’25-’26, was promoted to fellow.  He earned his Ph.D. in 1926, and was appointed Professor of Biology at the college.

Anselm became dean of the college in 1927.  He began 10 years as advisor to the “Des Peres”- the college yearbook, in 1928; and in 1929, founded and directed the St. Norbert Times, the college newspaper.  He was also founder of Alpha Psi Omega, the national dramatic society on the campus.

Having been appointed Chaplain Captain to the Officers’ Reserve Corps in 1924, Anselm was promoted to Major in 1938, and in 1939, he was appointed Chaplain Major of the 135th Medical Regiment and transferred to the National Guard. 

With the beginning of World War II, Anselm was called to active duty at Camp Shelby, Mississippi in 1941, and raised in rank to that of Lieutenant Colonel.  In 1942, he sailed with his regiment to Australia and the Pacific theatre.  In 1945, he received the bronze star for his service in Luzon, on the Philippine Islands and became assistant personnel officer of the office of the Chief of Chaplains.  In 1946, he was appointed Chaplain Colonel, and that same year, after being discharged, returned to the college as dean. 

In the fall of ’46, he was appointed Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel to the Wisconsin National Guard of the State Headquarters Department, on the Staff of the Adjutant General.  And in 1950, he was elected National President of Delta Epsilon Sigma, the Catholic Colonel Honor Society. In 1953, he was promoted to Chaplain Colonel in the National Guard of the U.S. Army.  At the age of 60, Anselm retired from the U.S. Army, after 31 years of service.

All during the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, Anselm’s interest in biology never waned.  He wrote many articles for “The Biologist”, “The Scientific Monthly”, “The American Biology Teacher”, and “The Catholic Educational Review.”  While in the Pacific theatre, he is credited with discovering a new species of mosquito that was officially named after him: aedes keefei.  He also collected and cataloged specimens of plant life from all of his travels. In 1952, St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, bestowed upon his an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Back on the college campus after the War, Anselm kept up his role as “Mr. St. Norbert College” through teaching, directing dramatic productions, and horticulturally beautifying the campus.  His religious ‘habit of choice’ during these years was camouflage shorts and cap with combat boots.  In his later years, he covered his balding pate with a toupee.  In choir one day, one of the older confreres, not recognizing him, introduced himself and asked who he was.  “I’m Anselm, you damn fool!” came the reply. 

Anselm died Tuesday, October 15, 1974 at the age of 79.

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