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'My everything': Missing Kennedy family member's husband pens touching tribute

Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, and her 8-year-old son, Gideon, went missing on Thursday after they got into a canoe to fetch a ball from the water.
/ Source: NBC News

The husband of Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean penned an emotional tribute to her and their 8-year-old son, Gideon, after the pair was presumed dead following a canoe accident in the Chesapeake Bay.

"She was my everything. She was my best friend and my soulmate," David McKean said in a lengthy Facebook post on Friday night.

"She was magical - with endless energy that she would put toward inventing games for our children, taking on another project at work or in our community, and spending time with our friends," he continued.

McKean said that being in his wife's presence "somehow allowed you to be a better version of yourself."

"She was the brightest light I have ever known," he wrote.

Maeve, 40, and her son went missing on Thursday after they got into a canoe to fetch a ball from the water, McKean said in his Facebook post. Maeve is the daughter of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and the granddaughter of Robert F. Kennedy.

Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean
Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean and her son, Gideon, were presumed dead on Friday after they went missing during a canoe accident in the Chesapeake Bay on Thursday.

McKean said he and his wife had taken their children to a family home in Shady Side, Maryland, to self-quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic and to "give our kids more space than we have at home in DC to run around."

Maeve and Gideon were playing kickball by a small cove behind the house when the ball went into the water.

"They got into a canoe, intending simply to retrieve the ball, and somehow got pushed by wind or tide into the open bay," he explained. "About 30 minutes later they were spotted by an onlooker from land, who saw them far out from shore, and called the police. After that last sighting, they were not seen again."

Townsend said in a statement on Friday night that the search for her daughter and grandson has now become a recovery effort. The U.S. Coast Guard found the pair's canoe and later said that it was suspending the search.

Rescuers searched more than 3,600 square miles over air, sea, and land over a 26-hour period.

"This was a difficult case, and even more difficult to make the decision to suspend the search," said Cmdr. Matthew Fine in a statement Friday. "Our crews and partners did everything they could to find them."

McKean said in his Facebook post that it was clear to him that his wife and son have died. "The search for their recovery will continue, and I hope that that will be successful," he posted.

He described Gideon as a child who had deep passions and spent hours reading, learning about sports and "trying to decipher the mysteries of the stock market."

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David McKean, Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean and family attend the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Hosts 2019 Ripple Of Hope Gala & Auction In NYC on December 12, 2019 in New York City.Mike Pont/Getty Images

"But he was also incredibly social, athletic, and courageous," he wrote. "And he was brave, leading his friends in games, standing up to people who he thought were wrong (including his parents), and relishing opportunities to go on adventures with friends, even those he'd just met."

"It is impossible to sum up Gideon here. I am heartbroken to even have to try," McKean continued. "I used to marvel at him as a toddler and worry that he was too perfect to exist in this world. It seems to me now that he was."

Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III said in a tweet Saturday that their family has "lost two of the brightest lights."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday that he had been in touch with Townsend "and on behalf of the people of Maryland I expressed our most heartfelt sympathies and prayers to her and her entire family during this difficult time."

Maeve was the executive director of Georgetown University's Global Health Initiative. She and her husband have three children.