Hokitika stalwart Jim Keenan mourned

By Tui Bromley
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Hokitika was today mourning the death of elder statesman, Jim Keenan, who died overnight, aged 91.
A former deputy mayor of Hokitika, Mr Keenan had donated much of his time to the Westland community, serving dozens of voluntary organisations, being honoured with the patronage of many and a Queen’s Service Order in 1989.
He was born at Woodstock, where his family were pioneer settlers and publicans. While attending the Rimu Convent School he experienced the fright of the 1929 Murchison earthquake, and later while working for the Rimu Gold Dredging Company at the Kaniere Forks power station he had the job of telling
Home Guardsman Greg Hutchison he was needed at Kowhitirangi where there had been a shooting; the next day Mr Hutchison was killed, one of seven victims of Stan Graham.
Mr Keenan saw active service in Italy during World War Two, and after the war he dedicated himself to a lifetime of community service, including eight years on the Hokitika Borough Council, 26
years as a judge on the West Coast racing circuit, president of the Westland Racing Club and patron of the West Coast Historic Places
Trust.
Rotary, the Hokitika RSA, West Coast Community Trust, Westland National Parks Board, St Mary’s parish, Kiwi Rugby Club, Heritage Hokitika (as inaugural chairman), Westland Power Ltd, Westland Electric Power Board and the Westland Cricket Association were just some of the organisations Mr Keenan has selflessly served over the years.
In his retirement, he wrote a book The Coast’s Colourful Characters about memorable identities he grew up with in Westland.
Nephew Mike Keenan, said today someone once said of his uncle that he had been involved in almost every organisation in Hokitika, except the CWI — because it was women-only membership.
Mr Keenan is survived by his wife Aileen and a large family.