First Posted: 6/11/2014
State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich said the state House June 10 adopted his condolence resolution celebrating the lives of Francis James Keenan and Jarod VonRueden, who died on Dec. 31, 2013, after reaching the summit of Mount Aconcagua in the Andes Mountain Range.
House Resolution 853 recognizes Keenan and VonRueden’s climbing successes and personal achievements while expressing sympathy to the families for their loss.
“I wanted to acknowledge the loss to family and friends and to honor the many things both Francis and Jarod achieved in life,” Kavulich said. “This tragic accident cannot take away the many fond memories and contributions these astounding young men made to the lives of their loved ones and their community.”
Keenan of Clarks Summit successfully climbed Mounts Rainier, Baker, Shuksan and Adams in Washington state, Mount Cotopaxi, Chimborazo and Cayambe in Ecuador, Mount Orizaba in Mexico and Mount Shasta in California. Keenan won National History Day regional, state and national competitions for his participation in various Civil War re-enactments.
He devoted time to assist with the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project, and had an essay on his grandfather’s World War II exploits published as part of Tom Brokaw’s book “Hometown Heroes.” He also participated in the National Leadership Forum on Foreign Intelligence at the invitation of Adm. William J. Crowe and attended Johns Hopkins University.
“Some of my colleagues may have seen Francis in the House chamber,” Kavuluch said. “When he was just 13, state Representative Harry Readshaw welcomed him to the House to give a presentation on the Civil War. I’m told he received a standing ovation following his eloquent speech.”
VonRueden of Wisconsin successfully climbed Alaska’s Mount McKinley and various peaks in Ecuador. He was studying to be an emergency medical technician.