NEW YORK – Funeral services will be held Saturday, Jan. 27, for William Richard Keegan, former president and chief executive officer of Gant, who died Tuesday at home in Oldsmar, Fla., after a long illness. He was 85.
Following service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, in which he was part of nine different invasions in the Pacific Theater, the lean, patrician Keegan began his apparel industry career with McGregor-Doniger. He worked at Phillips-Van Heusen, Manhattan Industries and Revlon before becoming Gant’s president and CEO. He was widely credited with moving the traditional dress shirt brand’s franchise into the sportswear business. He was twice named Top CEO at Consolidated Foods, later Sara Lee, during his stewardship of Gant.
After leaving Gant, he formed Keegan Associates, a firm which provided consultation to various apparel and retail firms. Even after relocating to Florida, he remained active, unable to resist an opportunity to steer a struggling business towards stability or a successful one towards grater growth. His son William Jr. told MRketplace.com that, just four years ago, he began working with an ice cream company in Florida, Working Cow Ice Cream, and actively assisted them in the expansion of their business.
Keegan had flirted with the idea of the priesthood early in life, but instead provided support to numerous religious and philanthropic causes as an executive. He was on the business board of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. His association involvements included the presidency of the YMA (then the Young Menswear Association), from which he later received the AMY award.
Keegan’s funeral will be held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hempstead, NY, on Saturday at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at Holy Rude in Westbury, NY. His wake will take place at Fairchild Funeral Home in Garden City, NY, on Friday between 2 and 4 pm and 7 and 9 pm.
In addition to his son, survivors include his widow, Dolores; a daughter, Karen; three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The family has asked that contributions in Keegan’s memory be made to the Make-A-Wish Foundation at www.wish.org.
–Arnold J. Karr