Patrick was the son of John O'Keefe and Catherine Fitzgerald. He was reputed to have first arrived in the United States at the age of thirteen in 1904, although over the years he made several trips back home to his birthplace of Ireland. He was travelling back to his adopted home of New York City (where he worked as a porter) on the Titanic, after a month's vacation in Ireland, when he was 21 years old, but was very worried over a dream he had in which the ship sunk. No one wanted to buy his ticket, so he boarded the ship with much trepidation. Patrick was on the ship until its final moments, and together with some of the other passengers and crew managed to untie collapsible B, which was tightly fastened to the roof of officers' quarters. This life raft, which was the last means of escape left on the sinking ship, was washed overboard and turned upside-down. Patrick, who was an expert swimmer and also used to swimming in cold water (having gone for a swim in the ocean every Christmas), dove overboard and swam after the life-raft. He was one of perhaps 30 survivors who managed to pull themselves up on top of the life-raft, where they were balanced until their rescue in the morning. Following his arrival back in New York, he was treated for his injuries and was unable to work for the next few weeks. After his recovery, he went back to work as a porter and an elevator-operator. On 19 September 1923, at the age of thirty-three, he married a bookbinder named Anna Nolan, who was only eighteen years old. Their first child, Margaret, was born on 26 June 1924, nine months and one week from the date of their wedding. However, due in part to the big age difference, as well as the horrific memories that still plagued Patrick, they divorced several years later. They reconciled a few years after the divorce and in 1936 decided to get remarried. They were married on the eighth of February at the Church of the Ascension, and to avoid Church censure pretended this were their first marriage. Following their remarriage they had a son, Edward, and two other daughters. Patrick died nine days before Christmas, only several years into their remarriage. He was forty-eight years old.
Mr Patrick O'Keeffe was born in Waterford City, Co Waterford, Ireland on 15 July 1890.
He was the son of John O'Keeffe (b. 1870), a quarry labourer, and Catherine Fitzgerald (b. 1873). He had two known siblings: James (b. 1893) and Ellen (b. 1898).
He and his family appear on the 1901 census living at house 6, Little Michael Street in Waterford. He later emigrated to the USA in 1910 (1), settling in New York and working as a porter but returned to Ireland for a month's holiday in 1912. His family are then believed to have lived at 2 Spring Garden Alley in Waterford.
For his return to the USA Patrick boarded the Titanic at Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 368402 which cost £7, 15s). Before boarding he sent a postcard to his father where he expressed his sorrow that he was leaving Ireland again. He later said that his distress at leaving was so great that he had a premonition that the ship would sink and tried in vain to sell his ticket in Queenstown before he eventually embarked. He was travelling alone.
On the night of the sinking Patrick ascended to the upper decks and presumably remained board the ship during her final throes. Finding himself in the water he managed to pull himself aboard the capsized collapsible B and later assisted two other men aboard, describing them as a Southampton-man and a Guernsey Islander.
Upon reaching New York aboard Carpathia O'Keeffe spent time in St Vincent's Hospital for convalescence having sustained heavy bruising, rendering him unable to work for several weeks. He later received a grant from the American Red Cross for $102.
In New York Patrick later worked as a window dresser in a department store and later as an elevator operator in an office building.
He began a relationship with Anna Nolan (b. 25 May 1905), a native New Yorker born to Irish parents. The couple were wed on 19 September 1923 and had two children: Margaret (b. 1924) and Edward (b. 1926) but they later divorced. The separation was short-lived and they were wed again on 8 February 1936. The family later lived at 120 West 109th Street, Manhattan.
Patrick died on 16 December 1939 aged 49. He was buried in God of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.
His widow Anna later remarried to Andrew Vincent Bartlett (1896-1978) before her death in October 1968. His daughter Margaret never married and was later an executive with the Revlon Corporation; she died in 1988. His son later married and had two daughters.