Two grizzled men dressed in full Civil War regalia silently stood with lowered heads at the base and head of Francis James Keenan’s coffin.
They remained that way until another pair of men, with swords raised, relieved them of their duty. The six men Cpt. Dennis Dewalt, Lt. Scott Debo, Sgt. Gene Kistner, Cpl. Greg Kline and Cpl. Keith Foote, were from the Battery B, 1st PA Light Artillery, also known as Coopers’ Battery from Gettysburg. They were sent by Rep. Harry A. Readshaw and made the over three-hour trek to provide an honor guard for a fellow Civil War enthusiast.
It was the kind of gesture that would have brought a smile to Keenan’s face, older sister Diane Carson said.
More than two months after his death, Keenan was finally brought home and remembered Sunday afternoon at Lawrence E. Young Funeral Home.
“It was the most beautiful, beautiful service,” said mom, Diane Lozinger-Keenan. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The 28-year-old died after summiting the nearly 23,000 foot Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina on Jan. 31, 2013. He was with climbing partner Jarod VonReuden, 22, from Wisconsin.
The delay in recovering the bodies was due to the rarely-used route taken by the two climbers and the push to put rescuers in as little danger as possible during their mission, according to the Associated Press. The bodies were recovered the last week in February. It was Keenan’s uncle, Edmund Carr, who made the trip to Argentina.
The day provided family members and friends, some of whom traveled from California, a chance to pay their respects and share stories of the 2003 Abington Heights graduate. A video montage of photos of Keenan through the years played in the background and a large quilt baring the image of the man who kissed his mother goodbye before he left for his trip, hung off to the side.
“To my amazing remarkable son, everywhere you journeyed in life, you went with my love by your side,” Lozinger-Kennan wrote in the obituary. “Forever it will be with you.”
Keenan successfully climbed Mt. Rainier, Mt. Cotopaxi and Mt. Cayambe, Mt. Orizaba, Mt. Baker, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Adams and the so-called suicide mountain, Mt. Chimborazo, at 22,680 feet, according to the obituary.
“He was a person who loved what he did, going from country to country climbing mountains in the free world,” the obituary read. “This was his love.”