David Keefe, a former 8th grade social studies teacher who has devoted much of his retirement to union activities, was honored Friday evening in Manhattan as New York State United Teachers Retiree Member of the Year.

That's in conjunction with the state teachers union's 42nd annual representative assembly, kicking off Friday night and running through Sunday at the New York Hilton Midtown. Some 3000 delegates, guests and staff are expected to attend.

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Following his 2004 retirement, after a 37-year teaching career in Hempstead Public Schools, Keefe, 73, of Mineola, was elected to the board of trustees of the New York State Teachers' Retirement System, for which he also serves as vice president.

For more than 20 years, he was president of the Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association, assuming leadership positions for the retiree association for Hempstead educators following his own retirement.

Keefe's work "is an extension of his lifelong commitment to serving union members," said Kathleen Donahue, vice president of the state teachers union.

"I never retired," said Keefe a few hours before the ceremony. "I'm out of the classroom, but I never retired."