Skip Header

Remembering John G. Keane

November 13, 2019
Written by: Dr. Steven Dillingham, Director

It is with sadness that I share news of the passing of John Gorman Keane, our former director. As we mourn the loss of John, we share the knowledge that his life and career were tributes to values such as dedication, honor, and friendship. 

John, who began his career in the private sector, was a big believer in public service and served as director of the U.S. Census Bureau from 1984 until 1989. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as the 18th director of the Census Bureau, where he had been a member and chairman of the Advisory Committee.

As director, John testified before Congress 43 times and worked internationally, engaging with numerous countries, including the former Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Canada, Hungary, Egypt, and the People’s Republic of China, to name a few.

He also oversaw the Census Bureau’s significant collaboration with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. John was a wonderful representative and encouraged others to remain connected by establishing the Census Bureau's Alumni Association.

John had a successful and fulfilling 60-year career in business, government, and academia, always leading with integrity and intellect. He recognized the value of data collected by the Census Bureau and of our statistical products, and referred to himself as a “practical futurist.”

After working at the Census Bureau, John served as the Gillen Dean and Korth Professor of Strategic Management in the College of Business Administration at the University of Notre Dame. During his tenure, he guided and mentored many students through their life and career pursuits.

We will mourn the loss of this faithful friend to the Census Bureau and share our sorrow at his passing with his family, including wife Rosemarie, daughters Sharon Keane and Janmarie Keane Schnabel, son John W. Keane, and three grandchildren Lindsey, Lauren, and Nicholas, as well as two sisters and a brother. We know John was extremely proud of his children and grandchildren.

John was an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Air Force after serving in military intelligence during the Korean War.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Hospice Foundation or the American Cancer Association. To send online condolences, please visit


Back to Header