The death last week of Rev. Colin McKenna on the train tracks of his native Westport shook his many friends and admirers.
David Pettee graduated from Staples High School in 1981, the same year Colin graduated from Fairfield Prep. David is now a Florida-based software developer. He sends along this tribute to his friend:
Many of us who grew up with Colin McKenna in Westport are shocked and reeling from the public tragedy that took him from us last week. Colin and I grew up off South Compo Road, across from Longshore, during the 1970s. We went to Saugatuck Elementary (at that time on Bridge Street) and Bedford Junior High (on Riverside Avenue).
He was a swimmer, skier, soccer player and neighborhood pal to everyone on Compo Parkway and Round Pond Road. We had so much fun “hacking around” our neighborhood during the summer months. Too many laughs and neighborhood pranks, which went on day and night, to list.
All the kids in the neighborhood took turns riding his homemade go-kart. It was powered by an old lawn mower engine that we kept running, providing hours of fun. In the winter there were snow ball fights and outdoor hockey, day and night, on a frozen Round Pond
I spoke to Colin last July. For those in and around Westport who are wondering what happened and why, there are no easy answers. He died of a difficult brain disorder, a painful and dark reminder of someone who tried to overcome a psychological disorder.
He was well-meaning in his Catholic ministry, and reached out to hundreds in ways that only a priest can. As a former Westporter, I want to acknowledge Colin’s life and the many great memories he made for us.
At the same time, I want to thank all the first responders — Westport Police, Fire and EMS — who tried to save his life. In addition, thanks to the MTA and its employees, who handled this tragedy with dignity and also tried to save him.
I will remember Colin for a very long time.