Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 18-June-2004, Vol 117 No 1196
Gavin Watson O’Keefe
Rotorua general practitioner, Dr Gavin Watson O’Keefe, 53, died in a motor vehicle accident near Atiamuri on the morning of 29 June 2002.
Dr O’Keefe was born in Wellington, and lived there for 6 years, before his parents moved to Taupo and then Hamilton, where he completed his schooling. He graduated from Auckland University with a Masters degree in Marine Biology before enrolling at the Auckland School of Medicine and completing his medical degree.
In 1978, he became part of the Rotorua medical community, working initially as a house surgeon at Rotorua Hospital, then as a paediatric registrar, earning the respect and trust of all who worked with him.
In 1981 he and his wife Bev (also a general practitioner) set up their practice at Westbrook Surgery, and since then he has had an important influence on general practice in the Rotorua community.
Dr O’Keefe loved general practice, and applied his keen intellect and tremendous energy to the care of his patients. He was a friend and confidant to his patients; and the long service of his staff reflects their fulfilment in working with him. Gavin and Bev worked as a team, sharing the duties of their practice and the enjoyment of raising their three children.
Dr O’Keefe’s enquiring mind and boundless enthusiasm for knowledge involved him in many activities outside his general practice. The Rotorua General Practice Group has a reputation for quality and innovation, and Dr O’Keefe was actively involved in its early development as an Independent Practitioners Association, and as a member of its pharmaceutical and information standards committees. He was also a director of the Rotorua After Hours Clinic, and served on the executive of the Rotorua-Taupo branch of the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA). For the last 10 years, Dr O’Keefe has been a member of the Premac Advisory Board. Early in 2002, the Lakes District Health Board appointed him as their first general practitioner (GP) liaison officer, where his role was to improve the integration of patient care by the GPs and hospitals of Rotorua and Taupo.
In addition to Dr O’Keefe’s huge contribution in the medical field, he was involved in many community groups and organisations. He was a member of the Mount Ruapehu Volunteer Ski patrol for 8 years in the 1970s and 1980s, president of his local Ford Block Community Association for 2 years, chairman of the Rotorua SWAP club, and a keen member of Toastmasters. He loved the outdoors, enjoying skiing, tramping, mountain climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, and orienteering—as well as playing a mean game of squash. He actively supported the arts in Rotorua and regularly attended chamber music and other concerts.
Dr O’Keefe was a man of enormous vitality and enthusiasm and his death was a great loss to the Rotorua Community.
He is survived by his wife, Bev (Chairwoman of the Rotorua General Practice Group); their daughter, Joanna; and two sons, Simon and Michael.
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