TOWNSEND -- Much like the lampposts his father once lit or the town common he claimed was the best in the country -- and he would know -- the sight of Donald Keefe walking down the street with his hat and his walking stick was a Townsend fixture.
Keefe's long walks ended last month. He died from cancer on Aug. 25, less than two weeks after his ninetieth birthday.
For some, his nephew Michael Keefe said, Donald Keefe walking down the street, following his return from winters spent in Florida, signaled the start of spring.
For others -- including one of his hundreds, possibly thousands, of students -- the sight of Keefe was a reminder of of childhood.
"When I saw him he brought back just wonderful memories of boyhood or young manhood," retired Townsend Police Chief Bill May said.
Keefe was born in Townsend, and graduated from Townsend High School in 1946, before serving in the United States Army Air Corps in Japan and the Philippines.
When he returned, he attended Fitchburg State Univesity. By 1952, he started working at Spaulding Memorial School as a math and science teacher.
"He was a young teacher back then and demanded us to do our work and respect -- not only for him and other teachers, but for fellow students," May said.
"You learned your ABCs ... but you also learned about life."
May remembers Keefe opening up the gym to run an intramural basketball league on Saturdays and trips he took with groups of students up to Lake Winnipesaukee.
"I think he just liked to see kids learn," Michael Keefe said.
Donald Keefe went on to teach at North Middlesex Regional High School and later Hawthorne Brook Middle School prior to his retirement in 1987.
Keefe often ran into students during his walks and received invitations to class reunions, Michael Keefe said.
But it wasn't only the students that remembered Donald Keefe. "Mr. Keefe" remembered all of his students by first name, David Alcorda said.
Alcorda moved out of Townsend for two decades and when he returned, he crossed paths with Mr.
"He said of course I do," Alcorda said. "You're David."
To his students, no matter their age, Donald Keefe was always Mr. Keefe, according to Alcorda and May.
"I'm 75 years old and he's still Mr. Keefe to me," May said.
But despite the formal title, Alcorda said he was close to his students.
"He never married and he considers all of us his kids," Alcorda said.
Outside of school, Keefe was active in the community, according to his nephew. In the 1950s he and several others started the Townsend Little League. He donated money for the annual Christmas lights on the town common and served on the Library Board of Trustees. At one point, he was named an honorary firefighter
Keefe, a regular at band concerts, was the subject of a town proclamation honoring his contributions this summer before his death.
His home was Townsend, but he spent many of his summer vacation and much of his retirement visiting other place.
Donald Keefe visited 46 states throughout his lifetime, only missing Alaska, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, his nephew said.
An avid hiker, the Rocky Mountians were his favorite, Michael Keefe said, particularly Glacier National Park and Banff in Canada.
But Donald Keefe always returned to his life-long Main Street home filled with photos from his vacations and his collection, numbering the thousands, of toy fire trucks.
He died in the same room he was born, Michael Keefe said.
His life, however, May said, is still a favorite topic of conversation.
"Don Keefe exemplifies the very best, not only in teaching, but as a human," May said.
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