Community leaders are mourning the sudden death of Jock McKeon, a man who had devoted his life to humanitarian causes.
Originally from the UK, McKeon developed his reputation in the Sydney scene, after taking on the challenging task of sitting on the Mardi Gras phoenix board, as it attempted to rebuild the flailing organisation.
Working alongside him, to re-establish the Mardi Gras after-party, was current ACON president Mark Orr. They both later became a part of the first re-elected board of New Mardi Gras.
Orr, who was close friends with McKeon, and his partner of over 10 years, Shigeki, spoke of a man who was “a passionate advocate for social justice and equality”.
“He was very community-minded, and loved his time on the NMG board,” Orr said. “He absolutely loved Mardi Gras, and what it did. He was very proud of being part of the foundation board, and rescuing the organisation.”
He was also a man keen on connecting friends and colleagues. Orr recalled fondly McKeon and Shigeki’s annual ‘shock’ parties, held specifically to bring old and new friends together.
Later, McKeon moved to Thailand to work for the UN development program tracking tsunami aid money, before moving on to work for the World Bank in Aceh and Jakarta.
“It was a task that he spoke of with enthusiasm and pride,” NMG co-chair Nick Parker said.
“Just like the work he did on the NMG boards, he saw it through to ensure that he left things in a stronger position than he found them.
“His integrity and talent earned him great respect. His wit and his wonderful humour made him a joy to be around.
“He was a great friend of the Sydney community, and we are reduced by his loss.”
Fellow co-chair Steph Sands led a moment of silence at Mardi Gras’ extraordinary general meeting on Sunday to remember “a great leader”.
“What I remember about Jock is his smile,” she said. “Always smiling even in times of great stress.
“He taught me many things during our time on the board together, but most importantly he taught me the value of having fun, as he taught many people.
“I will miss seeing his smile and the community will miss his great contribution.”
Details for a memorial event are still being finalised.

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