William Darcy McKeough (Image courtesy of Alexander & Houle Funeral Home Ltd.)William Darcy McKeough (Image courtesy of Alexander & Houle Funeral Home Ltd.)

William 'Darcy' McKeough to be laid to rest Friday

Remembered as a politician, businessman, and often referred to as the 'Duke of Kent' William Darcy McKeough will be laid to rest on Friday.

McKeough died at the age of 90 on November 29, 2023.

Visitation and funeral services will both be held on Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. respectively, at Christ Church on Wellington Street West in Chatham.

Remembrances may be made to the "McKeough Family Maintenance Endowment Fund" of either Christ Church, Chatham or The Ridley College Foundation, St. Catharines.

McKeough was a member of Chatham City Council from 1960-1963, before he entered provincial politics. He represented the ridings of Kent West and Chatham-Kent as a Progressive Conservative from 1963-1978.

"He put Chatham-Kent on the map," Mayor Darrin Canniff said.

Canniff likened McKeough's status in the community to royalty "What he did while he was a politician and afterwards, he was involved in a lot of different things... He was an influence," he added.

He earned the nickname the 'Duke of Kent' as a reference to the ridings he represented and for the senior cabinet positions he held under Premier Bill Davis. During his career he was Treasurer, Minister of Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister of Municipal Affairs, and Minister of Energy.

Former MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex Monte McNaughton, who looked up to McKeough as a friend and mentor, quoted another nickname calling McKeough the "Minister of Everything." McNaughton also called him a visionary.

"Many times out of the blue I would receive written letters from him with policy ideas - many big, bold policy ideas for the province. He was never shy about offering his advice," he remembered.

McNaughton said he's heartbroken by his friend's passing.

"We truly lost a Canadian icon. Darcy gave his life not only to Chatham-Kent and Ontario, but to Canada as a whole. And Canada's better off because of Darcy McKeough," he noted.

He added that McKeough was kind-hearted, compassionate, generous, and to-the-point. "What I loved most about Darcy was his straight forward talk," McNaughton reminisced.

McNaughton's own career mirrors McKeough's, as he's now left the political arena to become an executive at Woodbine Entertainment.

After he retired from politics, McKeough returned to the private sector. He had his own companies, McKeough Investments and McKeough Supply, and also spent time as the CEO of Union Gas and as a member of the board of Hydro One.

In 1994, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. The Governor General at the time, Ray Hnatyshyn, said his appointment was due to his "successful business ventures and fund-raising efforts on behalf of educational, medical, research, and cultural institutions."

Both Canniff and McNaughton will be in attendance at McKeough's funeral.

McKeough is survived by his sons Walker Stewart McKeough and James Grant McKeough, his daughter-in-law Julia Jen, his granddaughter Kate Reagan McKeough, and his sister-in-law Eleanor Tow Walker.

Read More Local Stories