Basalt remembers `an angel’
Kate Keenan went “from her dad’s arms into the arms of God,” Rev. Marie Gasau told a standing-room-only crowd who gathered Wednesday in her memory.
“This child was so beloved in the community,” said Gasau, eulogizing 11-year-old Kate, who was killed Monday in a car accident. “In her final moments with us, when she had one foot in this life and one foot in the next, she was cradled in her father’s arms, on his lap. It’s a profound thought – she went from her dad’s arms into the arms of God.”
More than a hundred people gathered yesterday evening to remember the young Basalt resident, described by loved ones as a promising young girl whose charming smile, optimistic attitude and angelic presence brightened every room she entered.
The crowd packed into the cozy Basalt Community United Methodist Church for an emotionally charged candlelight vigil in Kate’s memory, and shared fond memories of Kate.
“Feel free to laugh and share stories,” Gasau prefaced. “Feel free to cry and feel anguish.”
Young children, including several uniformed Girl Scouts from Kate’s troop, recalled their dear friend, as did parents, adults, teachers and administrators who knew Kate from Camp Chip-A-Tooth and Basalt Middle School, where Kate recently completed the fifth grade.
“Everyone who knew Kate, knew she had this wonderful smile that could light up a room,” said a tearful Dave Anson, Kate’s fifth-grade teacher. “She has all those qualities that every parent hopes their child develops – she was wonderful in every sense of the word. She taught me so much – truly, I was the student.”
“Her smile will always be in my heart,” said one emotional Girl Scout.
“She always had an optimistic attitude,” added another, choking back tears.
“God took our Kate because he needed an angel, and quick. Too quick,” said one mother.
“Kate truly was an angel,” echoed one mother who is close with the Keenan family. “She was our angel and best friend. She has wonderful parents who will miss her more than anyone, but we all miss her dearly. … Let’s all give each other a hug – she would like it that way.”
One woman who Kate befriended at Camp Chip-A-Tooth – a day camp Kate attended since its founding five years ago – said her young friend was mature beyond her years.
“She was such a mature, wise spirit, but at the same time she was a little girl,” the woman said. “If I could choose one word that would embody Kate, it would be grace. She was simply a beautiful person.”
“This is a reminder of just how fragile life is,” said one mother affiliated with the Girl Scouts. “And it also reminds us that we need to say those important things to one another, because we don’t know when we’ll get the chance again.”
Gasau said the Keenan family is planning a formal service for Kate, though a date had not been finalized last night.
Kate’s father, Bob, remained in “fair condition” yesterday at Aspen Valley Hospital, where he is recovering from injuries he sustained in the accident at the intersection of Highway 82, Willits Lane and Two Rivers Road.
Kate, a passenger in his pickup truck when it collided nearly head-on with a small flatbed truck heading downvalley, died on the way to Valley View Hospital, authorities said. She was thrown into her father’s lap upon impact, and was removed by medical personnel. Bob Keenan was extricated from the pickup by Basalt firefighters, authorities said.
The driver of the flatbed, Mickey Steele, was not injured.
The accident remained under investigation Wednesday, according to officials with the Basalt Police Department.
Kate was the only child of Bob and Susan Keenan, according to family friends. Bob and Susan are both longtime Pitkin County employees. Bob works at the landfill and Susan has worked at the Pitkin County Library for several years.
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