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Coconut Grove Family Mourns the Loss of Gifted Athlete

Liam Gunn O’Keefe, 21, died following an accident at his home in Coconut Grove

Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday, June 15 at the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club on South Bayshore Drive to celebrate the life and mourn the passing of Liam Gunn O’Keefe.

O’Keefe, 21, a gifted athlete who dreamed of becoming a professional sailor, died on May 31 in a drowning accident at the Coconut Grove home of his parents Alison and Douglas O’Keefe, according to family and friends.  

A Miami native and a 2021 graduate of Ransom Everglades High School, O’Keefe learned to sail at an early age on Biscayne Bay. He went on to distinguish himself as an athlete and team leader at Ransom Everglades and Brown University, where he recently completed his sophomore year. 

“He was a world champion in team racing in the Optimist class, won multiple C420 team racing national championships, (and) finished on the podium at the Sailing High School National Championships for Ransom Everglades,” according to a paid notice announcing his death in the Miami Herald

After high school, O’Keefe served as the first head coach of the varsity sailing team at Palmer Trinity School during a gap year, and spent time traveling abroad. 

As a college freshman, O’Keefe was named rookie of the year in the New England Sailing Conference and won Brown’s Cub Award as the top freshman male student-athlete at the university. 

(Photo courtesy Brown University)

He was studying design engineering, “a reflection of his lifelong engagement with the principles of physics and design” and his passion for sailing, according to the paid notice. 

In addition to his parents, O’Keefe is survived by his siblings Sawyer and Mac O’Keefe, his grandmother Beverly Gerald and an extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins.

O’Keefe’s family has established a memorial fund in his honor. For details, visit

The fund will support competitive youth sailing “to honor the memory of our son and brother whose love for the sea and competitive spirit touched many lives.”

More than two dozen speakers, including many friends, family members and two of O’Keefe’s sailing coaches, spoke at the memorial service on June 15. A second service is planned for August 31 at the Edgewood Yacht Club in Cranston, Rhode Island.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a cause of death. O’Keefe died in a drowning accident, according to family.

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