Story of a family of Mission Partners spans three generations

9/21/2023 - Peoria, Illinois

  • Keenan Family

    Keenan Family

Three generations of the Keenan family have a combined 111 years of service to the OSF Mission, all at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

The family matriarch, Thecla Keenan, worked as a surgical nurse, an Emergency Department nurse and educator at OSF Saint Francis for 42 years before retiring. She passed away in June 2021 at the OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home in Peoria.


Thecla put her nursing expertise to work when she saved the life of her then 2-year-old daughter, Theresa, during a family vacation to Wisconsin in 1957. News reports from the time detail how Thecla found the toddler had wandered from their lake cabin. She found Theresa floating in knee-deep water, her lips were blue. Thecla immediately began what was then called a “respiration technique,” which is how CPR was referred to in the early days. She resuscitated her daughter, who recovered from the accident after a 24-hour hospital stay.

Theresa – who became Theresa Simmons – went on to work for OSF Saint Francis in housekeeping for 44 years until her death in 2019. Theresa was an organ donor and was able to give life to others.


Thecla’s youngest son, Paul Keenan, is a project manager in Compliance at OSF Saint Francis with 22 years of service to the Ministry. His wife, Kim, a psychotherapist for OSF OnCall, has been with OSF for 13 years.


Paul and Kim’s children, Tom and Mary, also serve the Sisters’ Mission. They have a collective 3 ½ years of service so far. Tom is a social work case manager in the Emergency Department and Mary is a registered nurse in the Neuro ICU, both at OSF Saint Francis. Like her late grandmother, Mary attended nursing school at Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing.


The dedication of this family is awe-inspiring and truly appreciated.