BOULDER, Colo. — Ellen Mahoney says her husband of 35 years, Kevin Mahoney, loved people and hated litter. He adored nature and his family, preferably together, on one of their outdoor adventures.
That’s why the Mahoneys believe the best way to honor his life would be to take a hike, and maybe pick up some trash along the way.
Kevin Mahoney, 61, died on Monday. He and nine others were killed when a gunman started shooting at a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, though his death is not what Kevin’s family wants him to be known for.
“My dad was such a wonderful man, that the world should know who he was," Erika Mahoney, his daughter, said.
"He just represented love and light, and I want the whole world to know that he mattered so much to us, but to, also, the entire community and to people really around the country."
Kevin was born in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1959, but he grew up in the United States.
He was best friends with his son, Drew, and Erika says he was a great "girl dad." One of Ellen's favorite things about her husband was his tendency to break into song.
He worked in hospitality and hotel development and loved his job – so much so, that Ellen and Erika laugh when they say he was a workaholic.
When he got a job in Denver many years ago, Ellen and Kevin were unsure if they should live close to his job or further out, in Boulder. It didn’t take long for them to decide to make Boulder their home.
“He loved everyone. He was honestly the neighborhood dad to our hometown. A lot of my friends have been texting me and saying, your dad was like a dad to me, too, and so it’s so hurtful to them, as well,” Erika said.
After retirement in 2014, Kevin fully embraced his inner outdoorsman.
“Being in nature mattered a lot to Kevin. He spent a lot of time hiking, and camping, and traveling. We hiked a lot together, all around here, which is why we love it here,” Ellen said.
He also gave his time, volunteering with Meals on Wheels. Erika said her dad’s genuine kindness made him perfect for going into a stranger’s house, comforting them and bringing them a meal.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, their routines changed. Ellen and Kevin binge-watched TV, put on masks to go hiking and used the time to renew their relationship.
“For us, it actually brought us closer together and reminded me of the beginning of our marriage. We cooked together. Kevin was great about going to the store for food. He did it to protect me," Ellen said.
When the pandemic threatened to cancel Erika’s wedding last summer, Kevin believed his daughter should postpone. Today, Erika is glad she chose instead to have a small wedding in her family’s backyard. It allowed her the chance to have her dad walk her down the aisle.
“When we realized we had to put those plans aside to protect our community, and to protect our family and friends, and the right decision was to not go forward with those plans, he wanted us to wait because he really wanted to give us that dream wedding,” Erika said. “And now, of course, looking back, I’m just so happy that’s how it played out because he could walk me down the aisle and the ceremony was so small, which made it intimate.”
The Mahoneys have visited the memorial set up outside the King Soopers in honor of Kevin and the other victims. They said the kind words this week, from friends, neighbors and strangers, helps to keep them going.
They hope people continue sharing compassion for others after the tragedy that unfolded in their community.
"People can be more kind to one another. People can regard the sacredness of life. People can remember that what happens to one happens to all. People can, of course, hug their loved ones every day and remember to say 'I love you' all the time," Ellen said.
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