Town Official's Wife Dies During Sandy

Grace Keimel died Wednesday at her Lake Hiawatha home just days after her 66th birthday.

A Parsippany woman died at her Lake Hiawatha home Wednesday during the immediate aftermath of superstorm Sandy when it is believed that her breathing apparatus ran out of power, according to her daughter.

Grace Keimel, 66, died alone at her house on Lake Shore Drive while on a portable oxygen machine. Her husband, Parsippany Hazardous Materials Coordinator R. Lee Keimel, was performing Sandy-related emergency duties at the time.

While the official cause of Keimel's death was not specified, her daughter Dawn Barhite told Patch, "I believe it was because of Sandy."

Keimel, 66, had suffered from pulmonary issues for some time, said Barhite. She used a portable oxygen machine to assist with breathing during the day and a larger, stationary respirator overnight.

Barhite said that her mother was encouraged to use one of the town-provided generators offered to people with medical needs. Keimel refused the offer, her daughter said.

"She said that [with the portable tank], she had something other people didn't have," said Barhite. "She wanted the generator to go to someone who needed it more than her. 

"That was her, always putting others before herself."

Neighbor Sharif Shamsudin agreed that Grace Keimel was a selfless individual.

"She was so generous, always wanting to help other people," Shamsudin said. "Both her and [her husband] Lee. Really good people; she's going to be missed."

Grace and Lee Keimel were married 48 years. They settled in Parsippany in 1971. Together, they had four children and seven grandchildren.

Grace Keimel was a Connecticut native and lived there until she came to Lake Hiawatha.

She spent her career in service, working as a home health nurse for Morristown's Visiting Nurse Association until she retired.

In recent years, her health had declined. Keimel was a member of the Huff-and-Puffers Pulmonary Rehab Center in Ironia.

She died three days after celebrating her 66th birthday.

Barhite, a member of Parsippany's Citizens Emergency Resource Team who volunteered at the township's emergency shelter during Sandy, said she wondered if she should have checked on her mother more often.

Neighbors dismised that notion, telling Patch that they saw Barhite popping in and out of the family home regularly to see to her mother's well-being.

"The storm came for a reason," said Shamsudin, waxing philosophical. "She was a good woman, and her family was there for her. This was just her time."

Tim November 03, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Lee, Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. Tim and Kathi Wyman
Artie DeVirgilio November 03, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Our hearts go out with condolences and sympathy to the Keimel Family. Former Parsippany residents, Artie & Aggie DeVirgilio.. First Sales Mgr of, ERA GALLO & DeCROCE Tampa (Land O'Lakes), Florida
CONCETTA BARNISH November 03, 2012 at 09:40 PM
May the Lord Jesus Christ be with your family at this time. She is with our Lord now watching over her husband and her family.God be with you all.
Melissa Younger November 04, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Thank you and congratulations on your daughter's engagement. - Lee
Melissa Younger November 04, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Thank you for you kind remarks and we are still in that house. -Lee
Melissa Younger November 04, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Thank you for your kind remarks. - Lee and the Keimel family
Natalie Davis (Editor) November 04, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Lee, Dawn, Jennifer and Keimels, all of us at Patch send our deepest condolences. I'll see you tomorrow; please let me know if there is anything I can do.
Parsippany Ambulance November 04, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Lee and family, We are so sorry to hear of your loss, please accept our sincerest condolences in this difficult time. The members and families of Parsippany Volunteer Ambulance Squad.
Melissa Younger November 06, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Thank you for your kind remarks. - Lee and the Keimel family
Melissa Younger November 06, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Dear Natalie, Thank you for writing such a beautiful article about my mom. I know my dad and the rest of my family were very appreciative that you took the time to do this for my mom. Again thank you, Melissa (Keimel) Younger
Natalie Davis (Editor) November 06, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Melissa, your dad and your family mean much to Parsippany and to me. You all are in my prayers. Let me know if there is anything we can do.
Debby Hamidian November 11, 2012 at 04:05 AM
I just read this. I accidently came across it looking for portable concentrators. The last time i was in a hurricane; my lights were out for a week. Now that I am dependent on oxygen 24/7; I have been concerned about what happens. I have been not wanting to spend the money on a generator but this has convinced me. The beautiful description of your Mom made me cry. I am going to show it to my friend. She's been upset I don't want to spend the money because I want to leave the money to my son. She will also be moved by your remarks. I pray for you to find comfort and peace during your time of sorrow. Thank you for Sharing.
Carol Van Sickle November 23, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Melissa and to you and your family members, I am so sorry to learn of your mother's passing. Being so far away it is hard to put faces on the New Jersey people, but your and your family have always been on my mind as you and I were close friends when we worked together here in Michigan. May you and yours find comfort and God be with you in the days to come.


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