Katharine McKeever, known as “Kay,” of Water Mill died on Saturday, January 25, in New York City. She was 92.
Born and raised in Manhattan, Ms. McKeever was the daughter of John J. and Katherine Ryan. She graduated from Cathedral High and attended Hunter College, studying biology and literature. She spent the summers of her youth in East Hampton and fell in love with the area. From an early age, she was an avid birder and artist, traipsing through Central Park with binoculars in hand, sketchbook at the ready and, in the summer, birding the ponds and woods of East Hampton.
On a Christmas Bird Count in 1942, the young ornithologist met Christopher K. McKeever, a fellow birder and recently-minted attorney. Both were members of the Linnaean Society of New York. They married in June 1943 and started life together in Brooklyn. After the first four children were born, they moved to Water Mill in 1952, an area well known among birders … and had another five children.
Always in a full house, Ms. McKeever was a homemaker par excellence, an artist and a gardener, survivors said. She was a member of the Water Mill Community Club and the Democratic Party and worked as an election inspector. She worked for the U.S. Census Bureau as an interviewer, organizer and office manager.
Ms. McKeever was a wonderful seamstress, designing outfits especially for her daughters, did a square for the annually-raffled quilt with the Water Mill Museum quilters, and was on the executive board of the Water Mill Museum for many years. She volunteered at Head Start and Human Resources. She was active in the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church, taught after-school religious studies and became a member of the Secular Order of Franciscans.
After the nine children were grown, she and her husband traveled to various places, such as Iceland, Ireland and Australia, birding and sightseeing.
Predeceased by a sister, Eileen Ryan Weiss; a daughter, Hillary; a grandson, Killian Weckerle; and, in 1989, her husband, Chris, she is survived by nine children, Christopher J. McKeever and wife Nona of Kingston, Kilda McKeever of Vermont, Clare Lynch and husband Daniel of Manhattan and East Chatham, Robert McKeever and wife Trina of Manhattan and New Lebanon, Kent McKeever and consort Roberta Pilette of Manhattan, Daniel McKeever and wife Cindy Corwith of Water Mill, Matthew McKeever and wife Dawn of Cameroon, Jocelyn McKeever of Water Mill, and Colin McKeever and wife Maura of Belle Harbor. She is also survived by 16 grandchildren, Catharine McKeever, Elizabeth McKeever and husband Max, Christopher H. McKeever, Tristram Weckerle and friend Eva Schectman, Eileen Morris and husband John, Guinevere Tisdale and husband Steven, Benjamin Weckerle, Dylan Sanders and wife Emily, Alexander, Aidan and Callanan McKeever, Simone Sanchez and husband Chris, Alexandra and Loic McKeever, and Maeve and Ronan McKeever; and six great-grandchildren, Craig Rowe, Chris and Samantha Sanchez, Neala Morris, and Iris and Killian McKeever.
A wake was scheduled to be held on February 2 at the O’Connell Funeral Home in Southampton, with a funeral Mass on February 3 at the Basilica Parish of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Southampton.
Memorial donations may be made to Human Resources of the Hamptons, www.hrhamptons.com.