‘Self­less’ mother killed be­fore her time

Sim­mer­ing anger over death of Kiwi mother in boat­ing tragedy, Ju­lian Lee re­ports.

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS -

A woman killed at an Amer­ica’s Cup event in Ber­muda was re­mem­bered yes­ter­day.

Mary-Elizabeth McKee was hon­oured by fam­ily and friends as an ex­cep­tion­ally kind, ‘‘self­less’’ woman at a ser­vice at Christchurch’s Angli­can Cathe­dral.

But mixed with deep sor­row was a sim­mer­ing anger that the 62-year-old grand­mother had been taken be­fore her time.

McKee was killed ear­lier this month when a 17ft boat rode over the in­flat­able Zo­diac she and her hus­band Arthur were on in Ber­muda’s Hamil­ton Har­bour.

Her sis­ter Felic­ity Robin­son em­pha­sised how ‘very, very wrong’ the tragedy had been.

‘‘I should be stand­ing up here some 30-odd years from now, clutch­ing a Zim­mer frame, hooked up to a por­ta­ble dial­y­sis ma­chine and com­plain­ing about the way Mary cheats at bridge.’’

Neigh­bour and friend The Rev­erend David Coster stressed the ac­ci­dent was avoid­able.

‘‘Joy turned to tragedy and sor­row through an ac­ci­dent that need not have hap­pened if those in con­trol of the boats had be­haved re­spon­si­bly.

‘‘I have to tell you I’m putting that very nicely. I’d like to be a lot firmer but this is nei­ther the place nor the time.’’

Arthur, who re­ceived a head

Though she has gone now she has left a legacy of her love and per­se­ver­ance. I will be for­ever grate­ful for the love, kind­ness and sup­port she shared with us. Buy McKee

in­jury in the ac­ci­dent, de­liv­ered a mov­ing trib­ute to his wife.

‘‘I love and adore you so much, and al­ways will,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s so very, very hard. It’s so un­fair. You were a very, very spe­cial mother.’’

Arthur Mckee de­scribed his late wife’s pas­sion for ex­er­cise and travel and her good-na­ture.

‘‘She was al­ways so much fun, a great friend and a won­der­ful com­pan­ion.

‘‘I feel so priv­i­leged and for­tu­nate to have spent my life with yours.’’

Daugh­ter Lucy Cogle spoke on be­half of McKee’s par­ents about her child­hood, and grow­ing up with 10 sib­lings in Auck­land.

Cogle said her mother was a kind child who used to sneak stray an­i­mals into the house to look af­ter them.

She ex­plained how grow­ing up with seven broth­ers shaped McKee into some­one who wasn’t afraid to speak up.

She then cited a verse from the World War I song Roses of Pi­cardy.

Her son Guy McKee stressed how thought­ful and lov­ing his mother was to­wards oth­ers.

‘‘Those of you that have met her will never for­get the way she com­posed her­self al­ways with class and style, a person who was self­less.

‘‘Though she has gone now she has left a legacy of her love and per­se­ver­ance.

‘‘I will be for­ever grate­ful for the love, kind­ness and sup­port she shared with us. She was al­ways so self­less when it came to friends, fam­ily and strangers.’’

Son El­liot McKee, a mu­si­cian, per­formed an orig­i­nal song called Elizabeth, which he said had spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for his mother.

The Berlin-based El­liott plays with a duo called Char­ity Chil­dren, and the song ap­peared on their de­but al­bum Au­tumn Came.

The ser­vice ended with a ren­di­tion of Over the Rain­bow from The Wiz­ard of Oz, be­fore McKee was car­ried out in a white cas­ket.

The skip­per al­legedly re­spon­si­ble for the tragedy is in Ber­mu­dan police cus­tody while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues.

Mary-Elizabeth McKee was re­mem­bered yes­ter­day as a de­voted wife, mother and grand­mother.

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