Lucie Cunningham McKinney — a longtime resident of Greens Farms, who followed her family’s great tradition of philanthropy and civic involvement — died Saturday night, of complications from cancer. She was 80 years old.
She was the great-granddaughter of Edward T. Bedford, a director of Standard Oil, founder of the Westport YMCA and the namesake of Bedford Middle School; the daughter of Lucie Bedford Cunningham Warren (who died 2 years ago at 104) and Briggs Cunningham (victorious World Cup skipper, Le Mans race car driver and heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune); the widow of US Congressman Stewart McKinney, and mother of 5, including State Senate Minority Leader and current Republican gubernatorial candidate John P. McKinney.
First Selectman Jim Marpe called Lucie Cunningham McKinney “a valued citizen in our community.” He added:
I salute her activist role in working with people with AIDS following the death of her husband, former Congressman Stewart McKinney, from that disease in 1987.
She was also a strong proponent of protecting the environment as well as a major supporter of her church. As a member of the Bedford family, Lucie McKinney continued a 100-year tradition of the Bedford family providing major support to the Westport Woman’s Club, the Family Y and Norwalk Hospital. On behalf of the Town of Westport, I extend my deepest sympathies to her family.
For all her wealth and good fortune, Lucie McKinney was not immune to life’s misfortunes. She spoke openly of a daughter’s drug addiction and rehabilitation, and the day after her husband died of AIDS, she started a foundation to help victims of the disease.
Though Stewart McKinney was elected 9 times to Congress she remained in Connecticut, raising their 5 children.
“I was very proud to be Mrs. Stewart McKinney,” she said. “I adored the campaigns. I hated the social junk.”
In an interview with the Associated Press in 1987, she said, “Nothing has ever been an embarrassment to my family. If you can turn a bad situation into a good one, why not do it?”