Rita Rae Keefe Memorial Fund

Est. 2023 by Sue Ann Keefe.

Rita Rae Keefe

Rita Rae Keefe, a beloved teacher from Derby, left an enduring mark on her community through her lifelong dedication to nurturing young minds.  

Following her passing in 2022, her sister, Sue Ann Keefe, wanted to honor her sister and find a way to leave a legacy and symbol of hope for Derby’s youth. 

“One day, not long after Rita passed, I was driving by the Derby Public Library when the children at the Irving School were being dismissed for the day,” Sue Ann said. “It was clear to me that an enduring gift, like this fund that supports these children, is something Rita would want.” 

Sue Ann reached out to the staff at the library and asked how she could create a fund to always support the library’s youth programs. Susan Sherman, the Children’s Program Librarian was thrilled and immediately connected Sue with the Valley Community Foundation. 

The Rita Rae Keefe Memorial Fund, a donor designated fund, will support programs and activities at the library’s Children’s Room which is a vibrant hub of learning and imagination, where young minds can flourish. The Children’s Room offers resources tailored to youngsters from birth through age 11, that’s why Sue picked it to be the beneficiary of her sister’s fund. 

“We are truly grateful to be the beneficiary of this fund and honored to keep her legacy alive,” Sherman said. “This fund will enable us to provide resources such as early literacy activities, collection development, ESL literacy workshops and author visits to name a few.” 

Sue Ann said along with loving children and being an educator, her sister passionately supported women’s issues, social justice, and equality throughout her life. She was an avid reader, making it a habit to read the entire Sunday New York Times every week. Alongside her late husband, Joe, Rita also loved exploring the world, enjoying numerous travel adventures. 

“I wanted Rita’s legacy, her passion for life, teaching and learning, to continue on and thrive,” Sue Ann said. “This fund serves as a testament to her love of children, her commitment to education and the Derby community.” 

Throughout her career as an educator, at the Lincoln and Irving schools, Rita’s passion for teaching touched the lives of countless students. When she retired in 2007, many of her students penned dozens of heartfelt notes, echoing sentiments of admiration, love, and gratitude. To her students, Mrs. Keefe was not just a teacher, but a superstar educator and mentor. 

“For 37 years she shared her love of learning with hundreds of third and sixth grade students,” Sue Ann said. “Now, her fund will do that again, but this time forever.” 

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Rita Rae Keefe Memorial Fund