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MARILYN HAGERTY: Unruffled and positive

Tim O’Keefe and his wife, Becky1 / 2
Marilyn Hagerty2 / 2

He learned the value of patience during the controversy over the Sioux nickname and logo. And during his almost 12 years as executive director of the UND Alumni Association, he learned the value of a thick skin.

“That is, you need to control your emotions and never take things personally,” Tim O’Keefe said.

In a way, he has carried the torch for UND since he succeeded long-time Alumni Association & Foundation leaders such as Earl Strinden and the late J. Lloyd Stone.

O’Keefe and his wife, Becky, are being honored at a retirement reception running from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Gorecki Alumni Center at UND.

It’s a center that has come onto the campus with the help of alumni during O’Keefe’s tenure.

At age 64, O’Keefe is looking ahead as well as back. With his wife, he anticipates more time at their place near Detroit Lakes. They want to continue to travel and learn more about other cultures.

It’s safe to say they will be around for UND hockey games. O’Keefe played from 1967 to 1971 for Central High School’s undefeated team, coached by the beloved Serge Gambucci. And he went on to play four years at UND.

Today, his son-in-law, Dave Hakstol, is UND’s hockey coach. And a daughter, Katie Ryan, of Fargo, is a hockey broadcaster.

Long before the O’Keefe love affair began with hockey, there was basketball. O’Keefe’s grandfather, Henry, was mayor of Grand Forks from 1920 to 1926. And he still holds a record that beats one held by the famed Phil Jackson for scoring the most points in a game at UND. That was when he poured in 56 points in a game against Mayville in 1907.

As he moves along, O’Keefe looks on the success of the $312 million North Dakota Spirit campaign. Some said it couldn’t be done. And there might have been times when O’Keefe and his staff wondered. But he points proudly to the loyalty of alumni. And he ticks off names of many buildings on campus that are there solely because of alumni.

These days, O’Keefe and his wife are hoping for more time with their family. That includes O’Keefe’s mother, Jean, as well as brothers Bill and Make and sister Nancy here in Grand Forks.

The Grand Forks grandchildren are Avery and Brenden Hakstol — the children of their daughter Erin and Dave Hakstol. In Fargo, the grandchildren are TJ and Kaia, children of Katie and Ryan Hale.

DeAnna Carlson Zink — a long time staff member — is moving into the role of executive director.

She says she has learned from the “positive attitude” that O’Keefe displays. And she has admired his work ethic and his passion for UND.

Reach Hagerty at or (701) 772-1055.