I met Dennis O’Keeffe, of blessed memory, at a Liberty Fund colloquium entitled “History, Citizenship and Patriotism in Liberal Democracy,” where Dennis—a professor of sociology at the University of Buckingham and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs—was in his element.
David Conway, a mutual friend and a stellar scholar too, had invited me to partake in an exchange of ideas with some of the finest minds in Britain. With his twinkling blue eyes, sonorous voice, and beautiful mind, Dennis was the star. Not only was he a beautiful mind; Dennis was a beautiful person to know and be around. A patrician, the dashing Dennis was also kind, sweet, humble; with an uncanny ability to engage intellectually and personally with interlocutors.
Needless to say, that the idyllic and breathtaking setting of the Ockenden Manor in Cuckfield, West Sussex, England, and the intimate quorum—only fifteen people partook—was conducive not only to the exploration of ideas, but to the forging of an enduring friendship.
Dennis and I were in epistolary contact until That Fateful Day, also the beginning of the end. From May 2006, until Dennis’ last missive to me, on November 11, 2010—we exchanged close to 100 emails. In his last letter, Dennis wrote:
I will happily write a foreword to your book, “Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.” You can send me the text electronically I guess. … I suspect you are up against a mix of fear and sentimentality. This is much the same in the British case. The issues are of vast importance, both philosophically and practically. If South Africa goes down the toilet, down the Zimbabwe road, the outlook for Africa will be even grimmer than it is already.
Upon the publication of his last book, also in 2010, “Edmund Burke,” I introduced Dennis to my readers, via a two-part conversation. The titles should give you an idea of what fun Dennis and I had:
* “Thomas Paine: 18th Century Che Guevara” (10/22/2010)
* “The ‘Moronizing’ Of Modern Culture” (10/29/2010)
I love you, Dennis O’Keeffe.
Preach It in Heaven.