Recent passings in the Irish and Irish American community.
Brendan Burke, the youngest son of Brian Burke, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the U.S. Olympic ice hockey team, died in a car crash in Indiana February 5. He was 21. He was driving along with 18-year-old Mark Reedy when heavy snow caused their Jeep Cherokee to slide into the oncoming path of a Ford truck. Both young men were killed in the accident.
Burke was a hockey player and student manager for the Miami of Ohio team who had planned to go to law school. In 2007, he came out as gay to his family and later publicly in an ESPN article. His father was supportive and marched with him in a 2009 Gay Pride Parade. “He was a courageous kid, a gregarious kid, a compassionate kid,” Brian Burke told reporters about his son. “He was very bright and cared a lot about people…he was born with a lot of lucky signs around him. He was just a magnetic personality, a wonderful kid. I feel fortunate I had him for 21 years.”
Thomas J. Hayes, a prominent Irish American in the San Francisco community, the founder of the San Francisco Irish Cultural Center, and the father of Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, died January 24 after an extended illness, thirteen days after his 85th birthday. Born in Ballingarry, Co. Limerick, one of 14 children, Hayes immigrated to America in 1949. After working on a farm for a short time, he settled in San Francisco and became an apprentice plasterer. In 1958, he opened his own business, Tom Hayes Plastering Co., and also went into real estate. He became involved in politics, served on numerous boards and committees, and was appointed to the BART Board of Directors in 1974 by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto. Hayes was also an athlete and was inducted into the San Francisco GAA Hall of Fame in 2008. His daughter Joanne, who was one of Irish America’s Top 100 in 2006, told reporters, “He always said, ‘Death is part of life and we all will have our day.’” Hayes is survived by his wife Patricia, his son Dan, three daughters, Geralyn, Patricia and Joanne, and seven grandchildren.
Daniel Kerrigan, the father of figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, died January 24 after a violent altercation with his son Mark. He was 70. Authorities have ruled the death a homicide, but Kerrigan’s family has disputed that claim. Autopsy results determined the cause of death as cardiac dysrhythmia. Mourners gathered at a funeral Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Stoneham, Mass. on January 27. Jim Day, a family friend, said in a eulogy, “If we had more people like Danny Kerrigan in the world, there would be peace and love everywhere.” He was a U.S. Army veteran. Nancy did not speak at the funeral, but called her father her “support” in a released statement, adding, “He was there behind me always.” Kerrigan is survived by his wife Brenda, his children Mark, Michael and Nancy, and numerous grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews.
Irish-Canadian folksinger and songwriter Kate McGarrigle, mother of singers Martha and Rufus Wainwright, died January 15 at her home in Montreal at age 63. The cause was clear-cell sarcoma, a kind of cancer. McGarrigle’s Irish heritage stems from her father, Frank, who also had musical talents. Raised in St.-Sauveur-des-Monts, north of Montreal, McGarrigle moved to New York City in 1970 and signed a contract with Warner Brothers in 1974 along with her sister Anna. The sisters released their first album, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, in 1976. Their collaboration, which spanned the release of ten albums, earned critical acclaim. Some of their songs gained greater recognition when covered by other artists, especially Linda Ronstadt’s version of “Heart Like a Wheel” and Maria Muldaur’s of “Work Song.” When Kate and Anna toured, which was not often, family and friends often joined them onstage, which furthered the close-knit intimacy that characterized them as musicians.
Martha and Rufus were born of McGarrigle’s marriage to singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III in the 1970s. She is survived by her two children, two sisters and a grandson.
Richard Joseph McGuire, former player, coach and scout for the New York Knicks basketball team, died February 3 after an aortic aneurysm. Born in New York City in 1926, McGuire grew up in the Bronx and Queens with parents who operated a Bronx bar and grill. He played basketball in high school and in 1944, as a college freshman, took St. John’s University (then in Brooklyn) to the National Invitation Tournament title. After spending time in the Army in World War II, McGuire joined the Knicks in 1949, beginning a long professional basketball career.
McGuire played eleven seasons as a guard for the Knicks and another three with the Detroit Pistons, then went on to become head coach for both teams. He coached the Pistons from 1959 to 1963, then took charge of the struggling Knicks in 1965. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. The epitome of a “team player,” he was defined by his style, which favored passing over shooting.
McGuire is survived by his wife Teri, brother John, sister Catherine, daughter Leslie Dwyer, sons Richard, Michael and Scott, and seven grandchildren.
Ralph McInerny, University of Notre Dame professor, novelist and scholar of Roman Catholicism, died January 29 in Mishawaka, Indiana of complications related to esophageal cancer. He was 80. Born to a large Irish family in Minneapolis, McInerny studied at St. Paul Seminary, served in the Marines after World War II, earned a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Minnesota and went on to achieve a PhD in Quebec. He began teaching at Notre Dame in 1955, where he educated students in philosophy and medieval studies as an expert on Thomas Aquinas. He published several works on Aquinas as well as Boethius, Averros and other philosophers and theologians.
McInerny is survived by four daughters, two sons, two sisters, five brothers and 17 grandchildren.
London-born designer Lee Alexander McQueen, CBE, famed for his rebellious fashions and provocative runway shows, died February 11 in what reportedly appeared to be a suicide, nine days after the death of his mother, Joyce. He was 40. McQueen, the youngest of six children who claimed to be aware of his homosexuality by age eight, was born to a father who was a Scottish taxi driver and a mother who was a teacher. At sixteen, he left school for an apprenticeship with a tailor and by age twenty-one had worked for costume company Angels & Bermans as well as designers Koji Tatsuno and Romeo Gigli. He received his master’s degree in fashion design at the prestigious Central St. Martins College, and his graduate collection impressed stylist Isabella Blow, who helped explode his name into the fashion world.
McQueen became known for his controversial shows: in 1993 he had models walk down the runway in dresses printed to look as though they were smeared with blood, and introduced low-cut pants called “bumsters” that were later given credit for the low-rise jean trend that pervaded every denim company. In March 1995, he showed his “Highland Rape” collection, which tackled the topic of England’s treatment of Scotland and featured models with the bodices and hems of their dresses torn, their eyes blanked out with contact lenses and their hair disheveled. In 1998, he sent Irish America cover girl Aimee Mullins, a double amputee, down the runway in beautifully carved prosthetic wooden legs.
McQueen went on in 1996 to design for LVMH, the conglomerate founded by Givenchy, and in 2000 sold the majority of the McQueen label’s shares to The Gucci Group. He was named British Designer of the Year four times between 1996 and 2003. He licensed his name for fragrances and McQ, a lower-priced line, and also designed a collection for Puma.
Alexander McQueen had stores in New York, London, Milan, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.