There must be many ways to measure merit. One is to count heads at a rural funeral when a highly regarded citizen earns ultimate promotion. Matamata-Te Aroha funeral director Kerry McKinley is an example.
On Tuesday, April 21, he lost a long battle with cancer. His funeral was at Matamata Racecourse a week later. The grandstand overflowed – around 1400 paid their respects.
Kerry belonged to his district. Everybody knew him. He was a volunteer fireman for 32 years, coached rugby, was a member of the Fishing Club, the Squash Club and represented his firm on the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand. He held a handful of life memberships.
He was an excellent companion, fun to be with, and with a basket of tricks. In difficult times of bereavement, he was the essence of compassion and eased hurt.
Kerry seemed to know everyone in his Matamata-Te Aroha district, and everyone seemed to know him. He was a dedicated family man. Kerry and wife Lynley were a close couple and three sons completed a tight group. (This bonding could have been a product of Kerry’s lessthan- perfect childhood; Kerry’s parents, Violet and George, divorced and Kerry and his brother were years in boys’ homes till his father eventually remarried. The experience of a broken home made family life more precious.) Important to that family life was community involvement, and there was much of it.
There were other influences. As a young man, Kerry was involved in a motor accident in Ruatoria