David Lester Keenan: Portrait Of A Volunteer

David Lester Keenan was born in Scotland and moved to Roselle Park in 1928. He graduated from Roselle Park High School and Rutgers University and was the Correspondence Editor of the Atlantic Monthly Magazine.

As young entrepreneurs, he and his brother Bill decided to strike out on their own and opened three cigar and stationery stores on Chestnut Street through a 35 year period. Their family-run business was very popular in our downtown area and helped to keep Roselle Park flourish during a time when larger businesses were overtaking many smaller companies.

Here are just a few of his volunteer activities over the 66 years he resided in Roselle Park:

  • Member of the Roselle Park Board Of Education for 12 years, serving as both President and Vice President
  • Member of the Union County Vocational Board Of Education where he helped to initiate the Roselle Park Adult Education Program
  • Founding member of the Roselle Park Historical Society, serving as President
  • First Borough Historian
  • Member of the Roselle Park Planning Board for 10 years
  • Member and President of the Roselle Park Dads Club
  • Member and co-captain of the Roselle Park Auxiliary
  • Past President of the Rotary Club of Roselle Park and recipient of the Paul Harris Award
  • Member and past President of the Epworth Athletic Club
  • Past President of the Roselle Park High School Alumni Association
  • Past Grand Marshal of the Roselle Park Memorial Day Parade

Dave Keenan could be recognized around Roselle Park with his red hair, ever-present pipe, and friendly ‘how can I help’ nature. He would often say, “This is a great little borough which remains a volunteer community and I am happy to be a part of it.”

Even though Dave left us in 1994, his accumulation and preservation of photographs from the borough’s early years have formed the foundation for the Roselle Park Historical Society collection today.

He is the epitome of what being a volunteer is in Roselle Park.

It is because of these examples of Dave’s volunteerism that, at the March 2017 meeting of the historical society, we voted to establish a David Keenan Volunteer Award to be given each year to one special member of the Roselle Park Historical Society who contributes to our borough.

Anyone interested in volunteering to keep the borough’s history alive can visit the Roselle Park Museum at 8 West Grant Avenue or visit our Facebook page (link).

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