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HomeNewsArchivesJAMES E. KEAN DEAD AT 67


July 6, 2003 — A funeral service was held Saturday for James Edward Kean, who died in his St. Thomas home June 24.
Kean was born in New York City on March 1, 1936 to Ernest Orville Kean Sr. of St. Thomas and Io Lucretia Kean nee Marsh of St. John. Eighteen months later James and his brother Ernest were brought to St. Thomas to be spared the hardships of the Depression. For the next 8 years they lived under the care and tutelage of Eudora Kean and their other aunts and uncles at the Kean home at 8B Catherineberg. Later, reunited with their mother, they moved to St. John adapting to a simple lifestyle at Usher's Quay in remote Coral Bay. Jimmy, as he is affectionately known by many friends and family, spoke fondly of this time of his life which he spent, picking whelks, fishing and hunting crabs at the Quay, trekking by foot and by donkey from Coral Bay to Cruz Bay, and exploring his grandfather's properties at Maho Bay and Reef Bay. During this time he grew to love St. John as his home, and in later years planned to build a permanent home there.
Jimmy returned to New York several years later and attended Dewitt Clinton High School graduating at the age of fifteen. He went on to study mechanical engineering at City College for two years and then enrolled at the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village where he studied French, Latin, and Greek while working part-time at the New York Public Library. Jimmy's interest in languages took him to Barcelona and Paris where he studied philosophy and languages at La Sorbonne. He had a life-long love of languages and had recently spent his free time reading the Old Testament in Greek.
When Jimmy returned to the U.S. after studying in France, he worked as an associate engineer at Western Electric in New Jersey. Then in the summer of 1967 he met Josephine Reda and fell in love. They moved to St. Thomas a year later to care for Jimmy's mother, and were married in September 1969. Sadly, their first child, Guy, died as an infant. They soon had two daughters, Allegra and Camille. They made their home in Estate Pearl, where Jimmy took great pride in planting native and exotic fruit trees. Later Jimmy would fulfill a life long dream of purchasing a historical home in downtown Charlotte Amalie, where the family still lives today.
Jimmy began his career in telecommunications at the Virgin Islands Telephone Co. (Vitelco) as a central office engineer. During the 1970s and '80s he moved up the ranks at Vitelco to vice president of planning and engineering. In 1988 when ITT sold Vitelco to Atlantic TeleNetwork, Jimmy was promoted to executive vice president of operations and when ATN acquired the Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Corporation, he became its General Manager. For several years thereafter, Jimmy traveled the globe leading acquisition negotiations for ATN. Despite his commitment to his work, Jimmy was an entrepreneur at heart, and co-managed several family businesses including Skateland a roller skating rink where he would often be seen practicing jumps and other roller skating acrobatics.
After a distinguished career with ITT, Vitelco and ATN spanning 30 years, Jimmy retired and did consulting work for the South African Telephone Company, and for ATN in Haiti, before returning to do consulting work for Innovative Communications Corporation in France and in its French West Indian operations. Jimmy continued his association with ICC until his untimely death in June.
Throughout his life, Jimmy had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. He read books on every subject from the classics to modern physics and genetic engineering. Of Jimmy's many interests, music was his favorite. He was a self-taught classical pianist, saxophonist and enjoyed playing the guitar. Jimmy also loved physical exercise, running, cutting bush, and working on the house. Above all, Jimmy was passionate about his family and about St. John and the land there that was his birthright.
Jimmy often said he did not worry about things he could not change. Although he fought valiantly against the cancer he knew would take his life, he did not let his illness consume his thoughts. Until his death, he remained devoted to his work and the responsibility he felt towards his family. After a two-month battle with pancreatic cancer, Jimmy died peacefully at home with his daughters and devoted wife by his side. He said his greatest accomplishment was having such a close and loving family.
He is survived by his wife, Josie; daughters Allegra and Camille Kean; brother Ernest Orville Kean Jr. and many other nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts and cousins.
Jimmy will be buried at Usher's Quay, St. John.
Those wishing to make memorials in his honor may do so to the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital Cancer Fund, Roy L. Schneider Hospital, 9048 Sugar Estate, St. Thomas, VI 00802.

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