Lifestyle & Human Interest

JFK's Nephew Speaks Out About Deaths of Cousin Maeve and Her Son Gideon


In a tragic turn of events that has been made public recently, what began as a family looking to shelter-in-place on the Chesapeake Bay turned into the loss of two lives to something other than a virus.

The McKean family was self-quarantining in Shady Side, Maryland, as it provided them with more space. Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, and her son Gideon, 8, were reportedly outside her mother’s house playing with a ball when it got kicked into the water in the cove.

According to what husband and father David McKean later wrote, the mother and son hopped into a canoe in pursuit of the wayward ball, but somehow found themselves in the more dangerous waters of the larger bay.

Their bodies were found the next week: Maeve’s on Monday and Gideon’s on Wednesday.

David McKean posted about the incident on Friday, realizing by that point that the likelihood of the two being found was slim, and that the news would be told by other, less intimate sources soon.

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Other family members have come forward to voice their condolences and speak on the two lives that were taken too soon.

Maeve’s cousin and the nephew of John F. Kennedy, Tim Shriver, told People that she will be dearly missed and that over 120 members of the family remotely gathered to grieve their losses.

“I think we have the benefit of as strong a family as there could possibly be,” he said.

“I wish we could say it was enough. It’s enough to give us strength, but it’s not enough to end the pain.”

He added that “the reality is that the pain is unspeakably hard.”

“She was smart as a whip, tough as nails and kind as a human being can be,” Shriver continued, speaking of his cousin Maeve.

“The combination was mesmerizing. She could charm you with her generosity of spirit, amaze you with her intellect and then you just wanted to stand back with the force of her will. It’s a combination that usually doesn’t exist.”

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He also noted that she was a rock for the family, offering her shoulder to cry on and supporting them through grief or trial.

“That was her story,” Shriver said. “She said that in the most intimate ways to her own family and then she said it to the world. It was almost like she was the person who was saying to people all over the world who might be struggling: ‘I’m here for you. I’m here for you.'”

In his post, David also reminisced about his wife’s stellar qualities.

“You could hear Maeve’s laugh a block away—and she laughed a lot,” he wrote. “She was magical — with endless energy that she would put toward inventing games for our children, taking on another project at work or in our community, and spending time with our friends.

“There were weeks when we had people over to our house so often that our kids would be confused when we were just having dinner as a family.”

“Maeve once spent the hours before New Year’s Eve organizing a 40-person party at our house, complete with a face painter, during a cross country flight home, while also reading to one of our kids in her lap.

“She once landed in DC after a 30-hour trip home from Asia, and then took a cab straight to the pool to play with our kids.

“She did the Peace Corps, she ran the Boston Marathon, she knew how rub Gabriella’s legs when they cramped, and being in her presence somehow allowed you to be a better version of yourself. She was the brightest light I have ever known.”

Shriver also spoke of 8-year-old Gideon, admitting he didn’t know the boy well, but from what he did know, he was a very promising young man.

“From all accounts, he was his mother’s son, you know?” Shriver said. “Every bit as gutsy, every bit as daring, every bit as strong and every bit as kind.”

David had more to say about those kind and daring traits.

“He was deeply compassionate, declining to sing children’s songs if they contained a hint of animals or people being treated cruelly,” he wrote. “He hated if I accidently let a bad word slip.

“He spent hours upstairs reading, learning everything he could about sports, and trying to decipher the mysteries of the stock market. But he was also incredibly social, athletic, and courageous.”

“For his school picture, he gathered a couple of his many friends to be in the shot with him. He played every sport he could, complaining to me that even though he was often playing six days a week, there was still that seventh day, and why hadn’t I signed him up for something else.

“And he was brave, leading his friends in games, standing up to people who he thought were wrong (including his parents), and relishing opportunities to go on adventures with friends, even those he’d just met.”

“It is impossible to sum up Gideon here. I am heartbroken to even have to try. I used to marvel at him as a toddler and worry that he was too perfect to exist in this world. It seems to me now that he was.”

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