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."