A Tribute To John McKeag From Joe Quinn

John McKeag, RIP. "A wonderful man and a life well lived."

John McKeag, RIP. “A wonderful man and a life well lived.”

John McKeag who passed away last week in his 99th year was a source of inspiration to those who knew him as his energy belied his years and his positive cheery smile brightened many a day writes Joe Quinn.

“Wee John” as he was affectionately known throughout the world of athletics, though small in stature, was anything but small in standing among his peers and fellow runners.

The late John McKeag, left, with Joe Quinn, Chairman of East Down AC.

Such was his status that he was known and loved by everyone who met him during his long and distinguished career as a committed runner of some 60 years.

While John spent most of it as a member of Ballydrain Harriers AC, he was always keen to lend a hand to other individuals and clubs and so he became a firm of mine and by default East Down AC. He was a regular guest of honour at most of EDAC’s celebratory dinners and Awards Nights and in fact he was made an honorary life President of the Club.

John was also the inaugural sponsor of the Winning School Team at the annual Rollercoaster Races  held by East Down AC at Downpatrick Racecourse. He donated the John McKeag Shield to be awarded each year and also paid annually for the individual trophies, turning up in all weather to hand them out to the young runners.

It is not without reason that he is described universally as a legend and a true gentleman. Among the tributes on Facebook are the following: “He had the ability to make people smile and feel better about their day. I’m left with nothing but fond memories of our many conversations which always left one feeling very enlightened. Always smiling and never a bad word to say about anyone”.

And perhaps the best of all: “A wonderful man and a life well lived“.

There is nothing more I can add to that.

What a legacy!