Rich McKee's family invites fans, acquaintances or just appreciative members of the public to a memorial happy hourHawaiian shirts suggested but optionalat the Doubletree Hotel in Claremont from 3-7 pm on Saturday, May 7. This informal occasionwhose style Rich would have enjoyed and insisted onwill offer all who'd care to do so an opportunity to meet with Rich's family and friends and the staff of Californians Aware to share reminiscences about Rich and how he affected their lives and lift a glass in his memory. Those too distant to attend are welcome to write a note with their own thoughts and experiences and send it to the CalAware firstname.lastname@example.org will see that it's read aloud at the gathering.
News of Rich's death last Saturday has prompted a wide variety of sympathetic responses from all over the state. Monday Senator Leland Yee of San Francisco adjourned the Senate Session in his memory, saying:
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Rich McKee. Rich was one of our states strongest champions for open government. His passion helped ensure greater public access and accountability of government agencies throughout California. Whether you knew Rich or not, you benefitted from his activism. Our democracy is significantly better because of the work of Rich McKee and that is why he will be so greatly missed by all those who care about government transparency. I extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Besides the obituaries in several Southern California newspapers, Los Angeles bloggers and city political observers weighed in, including Jill Stewart and Karen Ocambwho recalls her close work with Rich several years ago to bring sunshine to the Board of Supervisors.
Also arriving are many individual messages expressing themes of astonished loss; a small sampling:
There are no words to describe the impact that the loss of someone like Rich makes. I just can't believe he is really gone. Sadly, but grateful that I was privileged to know Rich McKee . . . Shirley Bard, San Diego.
Our condolences. You cant replace someone like Rich, with his good heart and passion for open and honest government. Its a big loss for all of us. . . Bob Swofford, Santa Rosa
I just heard about Richard and I am devastated. He was a strong, beautiful man. He touched many lives. I personally owe a great deal to Richard for the time he devoted advocating open government. In his honor I will continue my involvement in my city and school district holding them accountable for their actions. I know Richard will be guiding us, from Heaven, through the trying periods we all face when we fight for an open and transparent government . . . Ourania Riddle, Dixon
So sorry to hear the sad news about your friend and colleague Rich McKee . . . Peter Scheer, San Rafael
He was a great individual and I will miss him very much. He was kind, friendly, so outgoing, its difficult to believe he is gone . . . Lupe Gaeta Estrella, La Verne
Very sorry to hear this news. Great champion is the right description. Our condolences . . . Charity Kenyon, Sacramento
I wanted to say how sorry I am to hear about the loss of Rich McKee. I remember him accompanying you for your SPJ-FOI award last year. If you are grieving – I understand. If you feel thinking about things would help – I do have a question . . . Kimo Crossman, San Francisco
Terry Francke’s quote that Rich McKee, simply as a citizen who cared passionately about the public’s right to know, won more open government suits than any lawyer in California says it all. Rich was a dynamo…he was the layman counterpart of weekly publisher Tim Crews in relentlessly fighting for transparent government. We owe Rich a huge debt of gratitude and what we need to take from his untimely death is a resolve to be like him as much as we are humanly able. Rowland Rebele