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Cape woman crosses motorcycle ride off ‘bucket list’

July 17, 2018
Lehigh Acres Citizen

Frances Keogh-an esteemed writer, political activist and Cape Coral icon- illustrates why the human experience does not fade with age.

Surrounded by friends, Keogh, 92, donned a skeleton helmet, black leather gloves and a leather vest with the words "sexy bitch" pinned on the right side. Grinning ear to ear, she gripped the handlebars while revving an orange chopper with a license plate that read "bad girl." Ninety-two never looked so cool.

"I always wanted to ride a motorcycle, but never got to it. I did the zip-line, and now I want to go skydiving from a plane. Maybe next year-if I survive 'til then." Keogh said. Her friends laughed it off, telling her of course she will. "Maybe I will! With all of you wonderful people around me, I have to, don't I?"

Article Photos


Frances Keogh grabs a seat on the bike with the assistance of Michael Dreikorn.

Keogh is proof that it is never too late to make your dreams happen. Arranged by her friends Sheila Sweeney and Joyce Easton, Michael Dreikorn rode in from Bokeelia on his Indian motorcycle to give Keogh a ride around Gulf Coast Village in Cape Coral.

From there, photographers and the press, several political activists, public figures, bikers, family and a bustling group of friends surprised Keogh on Saturday morning to watch her check motorcycling off her bucket list.

"Have mercy," said Keogh in a charming southern drawl.

All of a sudden, the song "Mustang Sally" came on. "Oh, we danced to 'Mustang Sally' last night! Yesterday in here, too!" said Keogh, who got up and showed off her signature dance moves to the 1960's anthem while her friends danced beside her, laughing with gusto.

Keogh may be in her 90s, but she still parties-with class.

"I really don't drink that much but I sure like a little-ooh-I love champaign," said Keogh. "I'm called the champagne lady!"

She's also active in Republican politics. A renowned figure in the local political community, in recent years she has served as the chaplain of the Lee Republican Women's Club, and was awarded the "Women of Distinction Lifetime of Leadership Award" by the Republican Women of Cape Coral Federated.

Among many other achievements, Keogh was nominated "Woman of the Year" by the American Business Women's Association in 1974, received both the "Golden Poet Award" and "Silver Poet Award" by World of Poetry in 1985 and 1986 for her book, "God's Spotlight."

Being cultivated, classy and Republican doesn't mean Keogh can't have a wry sense of humor. Keogh recounted her recent run-in with Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture and gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam.

It was a conversation starter - or stopper.

"When I was growing up, women weren't allowed to do anything. And I started as a tenant farmer's daughter," Keogh continued, "and I told Adam Putnam I was a tobacco 'whore!'"

Keogh was expressing how difficult life was hoeing the tobacco fields in the 1930s in her signature brash but funny manner.

"I told Adam that. And he blushed a little bit," she said.

Those surrounding Keogh burst out laughing again.

Putnam's response?

"He hung his head!" Keogh said. "But you know-oh I love Adam. I hope everybody's voting for Adam."

Sanibel Councilmember Jason Maughan, who was present at the bucket list celebration, said both Keogh and Easton played an instrumental role in supporting his 2016 bid for Florida's 27th District state senate seat.

"Frances has particularly earned her keep in this world." said Maughan, who looks up to Keogh as a role model.

"She just did it. Didn't ask for any glamour to go with it," Maughan said of Keogh's life achievements. "That's the kind of person that I hope to be. When people look back and say 'What kind of person is that?' I hope they say I was like Frances."

Keogh was a leader before women were considered leaders. She oversaw management with the federal government in the equatorial Marshall Islands, which is a presidential republic in free association with the U.S. During her time in federal agency management on the islands, Keogh hired and employed many women - something that was not popular in that era.

"She broke the glass ceiling before anybody even called it a glass ceiling," said Sweeney, who talked about stories of Keogh's ability to rise above the societal barriers that women faced in the early 20th Century.

Much like many women today, Keogh had to get through long chapters in her book before she could experience the things she's always dreamed of.

As a young girl, she always longed to dance. But growing up in the '30s and '40s, she was not allowed to dance at school. When she turned 15, she attended the military balls for World War II cadets, where she finally learned how to dance.

Growing up on the farm as a child, Keogh was always on the grind, going from working as a busy federal manager to a published writer.

"I don't stop!" Keogh said.

She retired to care for her ailing husband who passed in 2008, just shy of their 60th anniversary.

"Yes oh, wonderful Navy guy." Keogh said of her late husband. "He caught my eye. I told my friend. I said 'great damn.' Come see what I found. And let me tell ya, six months later we were married."

Keogh's longevity and vigor has taken her through a journey of a story that is rarely heard. She has now entered into a rite of passage which allows her to experience things she was never able to before - like her involvement in political activism, and riding a motorcycle.

Keogh's advice to current and future generations of women is to "know what you believe. Be kind to everybody. And listen to everybody."

At 92, Keogh rode on the back of a motorcycle for the first time. It was something she always wanted to do. Now, she can check it off her bucket list.



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