Legendary Mackay journalist farewelled with fond memories

Bruce McKean’s nephew, Shaun Halson, places a special card on his coffin. Bruce sent it to his mother in thanks when he turned 21.
Bruce McKean’s nephew, Shaun Halson, places a special card on his coffin. Bruce sent it to his mother in thanks when he turned 21. Daily Mercury

IN THE words of Shaun Halson, "Many of us live our lives and do not make a mark on the record, but this is not the case for Bruce".

Yesterday, family and friends packed into Mackay's Newhaven Chapel to say goodbye to a man described as "a legend in his own right".

James "Bruce" McKean was born on May 27, 1954, and died in a traffic accident on Nebo Rd on November 22.

Bruce McKean reports on the 100th anniversary of the Ching massacre in Sarina last year.
Bruce McKean reports on the 100th anniversary of the Ching massacre in Sarina last year.

A veteran court reporter based at the Daily Mercury for 22 years, Mr McKean leaves behind a broad catalogue of work, testament to his passion for both his profession and his love of the Mackay community.

Mr Halson recalled his uncle's at times mischievous yet always caring nature.

"My cheeky uncle snuck me into my first nightclub in Brisbane when I was 15," Mr Halson said. "I think we broke about three laws that night.

"They were only little laws - it's kind of funny when I ended up a policeman and he ended up a crime reporter."

The Daily Mercury's editor Jennifer Spilsbury told of how her own career had been influenced by Mr McKean.

"To a young, very innocent and wide-eyed graduate, Daily Mercury reporter Bruce McKean was a big bloke with a big reputation and I admit I was a bit intimidated when I first met him," Mrs Spilsbury said.

"Like most work experience students, I was shunted down to the Mackay Courthouse with Bruce during my week-long stint at the paper more than 18 years ago.

"It was that day that Bruce introduced me to his world - and he was indisputably the master of it."

Mrs Spilsbury said Mr McKean's reporting skills had earned him the right to have his name uttered in the same breath as the country's best court reporters.

"The Mercury has been inundated with correspondence from former colleagues and people touched by Bruce over the years - it is a testament to how much people loved and respected him. To readers he was Bruce McKean court reporter, but to the Mercury he was Bruiser, our Silver Fox, and his life was as colourful and as entertaining as the stories he told us."

A passionate bowls player, Mr McKean gave much of his time competing, umpiring and coaching the game.

City Bowls Club immediate past president Vince McSherry made reference to Mr McKean's willingness to give up his time for the club, as well as his playing skill.

"It was off the green the real character and interests of Bruce shone through because he was one of those men who understood that membership of a club meant more than just playing," Mr McSherry said. "He had a gift of being concerned for the welfare of others ... he was considerate and generous and ready to step forward on those occasions when he thought he could make a difference."

James Bruce McKean, 58, is survived by his mother Betty Beitzel, and sisters Del Randal and Paula Halson and their families.

Topics:  court reporter

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