Stands overflow for Kerry McKinley
and had swapped seats with a friend five minutes before the crash. His friend died. To Kerry, the accident was life-changing, says son David.
It led him to join the Matamata Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1980. He was awarded the 25-year Gold Star in 2005, was made an honorary life member in 2006, and when he retired in 2012, he had completed 32 years, three months and six days of service.
Kerry was born in Otaki on March 22, 1950, a lad with fun in his heart, but not always appreciated by teachers. He told his family he commonly wore two sets of trousers to school to help absorb punishments dealt out. Stories he recounted testified he was a chap to make the best of a situation.
‘‘From an early age, Kerry could turn any life event into an adventure,’’ said funeral celebrant Ron Cronin-Lampe.
David told how his dad confessed to ‘‘wagging’’ from school and forging notes to teachers. In other respects, he was a man of integrity. His childhood moved him from Otaki to Tauranga, to Papatoetoe, and to Kelston after his dad remarried. He attended Kelston Boys’ High School.
Kerry was a man of many parts, demonstrated by his work record. As a youngster he was an ‘‘icecream boy’’ at Auckland’s St James Theatre. He worked at a lolly factory, tried his hand at farming, and worked at Waterson’s Funeral Directors.
Sixteen years ago, he was introduced to Glenda Milligan. They were two people seeking a challenge and outlet for their need to ease bereavement. The business partnership of Broadway Funeral Homes, serving Matamata, Te Aroha and district, was the result. But there was always time for Kerry’s trout fishing.
Glenda puts her finger on Kerry’s magic. ‘‘You have always had that extra mana few folk have. I noticed it the first time I saw you conducting a funeral – before I even met you.’’
Kerry is survived by his Lynley, David and Farah, Michael and Kiri and Dallas, eight grandchildren and four greatgrandchildren.
Kerry McKinley is fondly remembered by the Matamata community.