Kennedy family members memorialized Maeve Kennedy McKean on Saturday as a dedicated mom with an infectious laugh and boundless energy hours after the search for her and her 8-year-old son was suspended.
“It has been more than 24 hours, and the chances they have survived are impossibly small,” her husband, David McKean, wrote on Facebook late Friday. “It is clear that Maeve and Gideon have passed away.”
McKean, 40, is the granddaughter of former US Attorney General Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. She and her son Gideon disappeared Thursday while canoeing in the Chesapeake Bay, near her mother’s waterfront home in Shady Side, Maryland. Coast Guard officials announced late Friday the search for the pair had been suspended after discovering their capsized canoe miles away, McKean wrote.
“My heart is crushed, yet we shall try to summon the grace of God and what strength we have to honor the hope, energy and passion that Maeve and Gideon set forth into the world,” McKean’s mother, former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said in a statement to according to CNN. “My family thanks all for the outpouring of love and prayers as we grieve and try to bear this devastating loss.”
McKean, a human rights lawyer and the executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative, is depicted as a hands-on mom and cherished member of the Kennedy family on social media.
In images posted by David, she’s seen cuddling with her three young children, Gideon, 2 1/2-year-old Toby and 7-year-old Gabriella, running in a race, and smiling for the camera alongside her husband and friends.
“Maeve turned 40 in November, and she was my everything. She was my best friend and my soulmate,” McKean wrote. “You could hear Maeve’s laugh a block away—and she laughed a lot. 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.”
He described Gideon as wise beyond his years — an avid reader, yet “incredibly social, athletic, and courageous.”
“He was deeply compassionate, declining to sing children’s songs if they contained a hint of animals or people being treated cruelly,” McKean wrote. “He hated if I accidentally let a bad word slip.”
Both mother and son inherited the Kennedy work ethic and athleticism, McKean said.
“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,” he recalled of Maeve.
Gideon, meanwhile, “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,” his father wrote.
Condolences poured in from other members of the famous family following the search suspension.
“Maeve was a sister to me growing up. I cannot imagine my childhood, or my adulthood without her. She will live in a special place in my heart forever, brightened by Gideon’s sweet smile,” her cousin, Kick Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., wrote on Instagram.
US Rep. Joe Kennedy III tweeted: “We love you Maeve. We love you Gideon. Our family has lost two of the brightest lights. Grateful for the prayers. Hold your loved ones tight.”
The Kennedy-McKeans were self-quarantining from the coronavirus at an empty home owned by Townsend when they went missing around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, according to McKean.
The kids were playing in the front yard, when the pair “got into a canoe, intending simply to retrieve the ball” that had rolled into the water, he wrote.
“The cove is protected, with much calmer wind and water than in the greater Chesapeake,” McKean explained. “About 30 minutes later they were spotted by an onlooker from land, who saw them far out from shore, and called the police. After that last sighting, they were not seen again.”
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