Jump Street

Once ruled a suicide, Phoenix finance chief Kevin Keogh's leap to his death on a busy thoroughfare is a true medical mystery

"But then you start looking at these neurological things that are not just anecdotal, are not just told by the family. And there's a variety of physicians looking at him, and they're having difficulty deciding exactly what's going on with him, too. You have some docs saying, maybe it's worms in the brain because we have a borderline [reading], maybe it's epilepsy, maybe it's something else.

"In reality, that's kind of where we wind up. Which ballpark do we wind up placing this in? The word 'undetermined' is the right ballpark in this case."

That said, as of last week, CIGNA had yet to change its corporate mind about paying Karlene Keogh the life-insurance benefits.

Dominic Bugatto
Kevin and Karlene Keogh at their Phoenix home, with two of their three dogs.
courtesy of Karlene Keogh
Kevin and Karlene Keogh at their Phoenix home, with two of their three dogs.

On the morning of October 25, dozens of Kevin Keogh's friends and onetime colleagues gathered at the old Phoenix City Hall, formally known as the Calvin C. Goode building.

Former councilman Goode — who knew and respected Keogh — was in attendance, as well as Mayor Phil Gordon.

The occasion was the dedication of a lovely plaque in Keogh's name.

City manager Fairbanks spoke first, saying "all of us looked up to Kevin, what he did for this city, all of the personal sacrifices he made. I know he was proud of the wonderful things he had accomplished."

Keogh's buddy Barbara Lang fought to maintain her composure as she related her feelings of admiration and warmth toward him.

Mayor Gordon spoke directly to Karlene Keogh, who was standing to his side.

"Karlene, this is Kevin's family," the mayor said, gesturing to the crowded room, "and I think that's a legacy beyond the plaque and the city he built."

Gordon recalled seeing Keogh sometimes at the AJ's store at Central Avenue and Camelback Road, buying a bottle of wine to take home with him:

"He'd smile at me and say 'hi'; just a good guy. Karlene, you go home tonight and have a glass of wine for Kevin, okay?"

Finally, Karlene Keogh stepped to the podium. Practiced at public speaking, it seemed as if she was in her own living room.

"Kevin would have left halfway through this," she said. "He was a team guy, and he didn't like people focusing on him for one second."

She referred to her husband as "a very complex individual, a renaissance man who didn't do well with the simple and obvious."

Then, she addressed the pink elephant in the room, her husband's terrible and still-mysterious death.

"We do know the truth now — and he did not commit suicide," Mrs. Keogh said.

"Kevin's death was not intentional. That is official now. He would not have intentionally harmed himself or others. I thought it was very important for all of you to know this."

She closed with these words:

"The Kevin Keogh I loved the most was Kevin the husband and Kevin the friend. His job did not come first. I came first. Kevin, thank you. I'm so glad you took a chance with me. I miss you, and I will always love you."

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