Widow says final farewell to 'phenomenal' husband
"I don't know how I'm going to raise these babies without you Matt but, rest assured, I will do my very best."
Those were words said on behalf of Bex McKee, the wife of 39-year-old Wendon farmer Matthew "Matt" McKee, who was killed along with friends Ewan Christie and Christopher "Bart" Simpson when their truck hit a concrete bridge on the Riversdale-Waikaia road on Friday.
Matt is survived by Bex and their three young children Hannah, Harry and Murphy.
Matt's funeral was held at the Calvin Community Church in Gore yesterday and was attended by about 1000 people.
Daughter Hannah said she loved her dad and talked about the things she loved to do with him, like going for rides on the farm and playing with the dogs.
A special guest at the funeral was Matt's favourite dog, Case, who escorted his coffin into the church, along with about 30 family and friends.
A keen dog triallist, Matt was honoured by Southland Dog Trial Association president Trevor Roughan, who spoke of the last time he saw his friend.
"My last memory of Matt . . . he was judging at the Southland [dog trials] . . . sitting there with his coat on and his tie, he looked magnificent.
"I have the dog trial equivalent of the bible here, which I will place on his coffin."
Reverend Ken Williams, who led the service, said the circumstances of Matt's death "have shaken us all".
"Today we would rather be anywhere but here."
Williams said everyone at the funeral grieved along with the Christie and Simpson families.
This type of tragedy could "shatter and rip apart a community, barriers can be built and hatred can gain a foothold."
The community needed to rally together and rise to the challenge, he said.
A woman read from a letter written by Bex.
"Matt, you are phenomenal . . . you sure did pack an awful lot into such a short life.
"You were so unbelievable and talented with everything you turned your hand to.
"I have so many fantastic memories of the life we have shared together, but we were just getting started.
"Rest in peace, my darling Matt, your domineering woman has got this covered."
The Southland Times