The mention of Kelly O’Keefe brings an instant, sort of lop-sided grin and a chuckle to the faces of old-time Carsonites. The headline on a yellowed news clipping on the wall in the Old Globe remembers him as “The One, The Only, The Inimitable Kelly O’Keefe.”
O’Keefe was the town drunk whom all seemed to love and care for.
Guy Farmer, a member of The Associated Press’ Capitol corps of reporters in the early 1960s, remembers him well.
“There’s lots of great rumors about Kelly,” he said. “Some said he was a jockey, a miner … what he really was was a regular at the old Old Globe when it was across from the Nugget.
“He was a great town character. One of the jobs the guys in the press corps had in the ’60s, when the press room was adjacent to the Assembly Chambers in the Capitol, was to look in and see if Kelly was asleep, passed out, on the rugs.
“He was treated as the lovable town drunk. People looked after him. He just reminds me of old times in Carson. He was a fixture.”
O’Keefe, who was born James Benedict O’Keefe on Nov. 22, 1898, near Virginia City, died of natural causes in Carson City on Jan. 18, 1973, at the age of 74.