RFK's Granddaughter and Her Son Remembered 1 Year After Drownings: How the Family Is Memorializing Them

It's been an "impossible year" for the family of Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean and her young son Gideon, who drowned exactly one year ago after being swept away in a canoe in the choppy expanse of the Chesapeake Bay.

But as the loved ones of Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter and great-grandson mark the first anniversary since the deaths, they are also thinking about Maeve and Gideon's legacies: what it meant to know and love them and how that love can spread now to others.

In a message sent Friday morning, the larger Kennedy-McKean family announced the launch of a website in Maeve and Gideon's names to "serve as a virtual scrapbook of their lives, and a space to learn about and support the ongoing work being done in their names."

"This has been the most painful year, filled with grief and mourning, for us, and for so many others around the world," the family wrote, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Mother and son died while social distancing at a waterfront home owned by Maeve's mother, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.)

"Maeve and Gideon were beautiful, bubbly, caring, people, and we have been so grateful for the outpouring of love from all of those whose lives they touched," their family wrote. "Your kind words and virtual hugs have lifted us up when we needed it most."

On the website, the family encouraged others to "share any memories or artifacts of Maeve and Gideon – photos, videos, letters, voicemails – that you may have."

They also announced a virtual 5K during April to "rally support for the fellowships and funds memorializing Maeve and Gideon."

Maeve, a human rights lawyer and former Peace Corps volunteer, had served as executive director of the Georgetown University Global Health Initiative until her death. Among the initiatives memorializing her are a public health fellowship and award in her name.

Son Gideon, his dad wrote last year, had grown a heart so big he wouldn't even "sing children's songs if they contained a hint of animals or people being treated cruelly."

"This impossible year would have been unmanageable without all of you," the family wrote in Friday's message. "Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reach out, send love, and food, stop by for a visit, share a story, and do those countless other acts of kindness – we are so grateful to you."

Their note — signed by Maeve's widow, Dave McKean, their surviving children, her mother and others in the family, including Kerry and Max Kennedy — expressed gratitude for "each and every caring gesture you've made."

"We hope to see you all when it is safe to gather together again."

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