Beloved Utica College, Tangerine Alumna Dies at 56


Samuel Northrup, Editor In Chief 

The Tangerine has a lost a beloved former editor in chief.

Jacqueline LaChance McKeon, who served as editor of The Tangerine in the 1983-1984 academic year, died following a brief illness on Nov. 21 at age 56. Diagnosed with cancer in 2017, McKeon passed away in her Chatham, N.Y., home in the company of her two children.

From her time at Utica College serving as editor of The Tangerine through adulthood, McKeon, a member of UC’s graduating class of 1984, was adored by family and friends for both her skill as a journalist and writer and her kind, authentic nature.

Despite the more than 30 years that have passed since graduation, McKeon maintained a close relationship with her colleagues and friends from her time at Utica College.

Anne Nizinkirk and McKeon became close friends during their time working together at The Tangerine. Nizinkirk, who was a year older than McKeon, came to UC as a junior after transferring schools.

After trying out various activities on campus, Nizinkirk joined The Tangerine as a salesperson, where she would meet McKeon. From there, Nizinkirk said, McKeon “took her under her wing” to her help adapt to her new college.

To Nizinkirk, McKeon’s kindness was just as present in her work as an editor in chief as it was in their friendship.

“If someone needed help, she was there,” Nizinkirk said. “If someone needed encouraging words about their article, she was there, and yet she critiqued it and edited it in a nice way. There are some people who just take the red pen out and make you feel deflated when you get that article back, but she was just a genuine, nice person.”

Like Nizinkirk, NJ Wheelock came to know McKeon during her time at Utica College. After their freshman year, however, the two lost contact. But more than two decades later, McKeon reached out to Wheelock on Facebook and the old friends reconnected instantly.

“You’d say, ‘Hey, Jackie, what are you doing? Do you want to come down for a visit?’” Wheelock said. “Then she would show up with scones, for now, wine for later and bones for the dog. She was just a light. She was so warm and just game for everything and fun and a joy and a light. I really adored her, and I’m heartbroken.”

Dave Armon, who proceeded McKeon as editor in chief, remembered McKeon as both friend and skilled journalist who “exuded confidence that helped us get The Tangerine out week after week.”

“Everybody who knew Jackie wanted to be a member of the Tangerine staff,” Armon said. “She had established herself as a brilliant storyteller while working as a Tangerine reporter, so it was natural to hand the reins to Jackie.”

Besides her Tangerine friends and colleagues, McKeon even made an impression on faculty she worked with during her time at UC.

Professor Emerita of Journalism Kim Landon served as faculty advisor for The Tangerine during McKeon’s tenure as editor in chief and remembers her for her genuine, caring personality as both a person and leader.

“Jackie was so smart and so good at what she did,” Landon said. “But because she was always so absolutely genuine about who she was, it was almost like there was no ego involved, ever. She didn’t get the limelight for being as good as she was. She was in a group of people who were top-notch, but she didn’t demand the spotlight, and in many ways, she was the most consistently talented of the group.

“She was the same way as a person as she was as an editor as she was as a journalist in the world — genuine, smart and committed.”

Rather than seeing her as just a former student, Landon considered McKeon a friend as the two stayed in touch in the years following graduation.

“She was very real; with Jackie, who you saw was what you got,” Landon said. “And that’s really unusual if you think of how many people are exactly who they are. She wore her heart on her sleeve, she loved her kids like crazy, she loved her friends and you always knew she loved you. If you were Jackie’s friend, you knew she cared about you.”

McKeon is survived by her two children, Maura and Jack.