Nancy McKinley, slain by an intruder during a visit to Bellport last week, was remembered for her smile, energy, and dedication to books and literacy at a funeral Mass for her here Monday.

Family and friends, including many foreign service officers, filled the historic Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle to remember McKinley, 61, a retired librarian and wife of a diplomat, whose life ended in what was called "a tragic death."

"I remember a woman with a smile on her face, full of life and excitement," said Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, who officiated at the Mass in the glittering, ornate, marble cathedral.

Jameson recalled how McKinley had agreed to help organize books he owned and those donated by a late parishioner into a library, a project to follow her role helping oversee a publication about the cathedral's renovation.

"Oh how she loved books, making them come alive for kids and adults," Jameson said. "Wherever Nancy went - Rome, Beijing, Danang, London, Berlin and Port-au-Prince - she helped equip libraries and further the cause of child literacy."

McKinley, a Bellport native who made her home in Washington, lived in cities around the world as the wife of longtime diplomat Brunson McKinley, who is now co-chairman of the Association for International Mobility in Geneva.

During his State Department career, he held posts in Italy, China, Vietnam, the United Kingdom and Germany, and was the first American ambassador to post-Duvalier Haiti.

Their children, Harley and Sarah, thanked those who came to the Mass Monday.

"This past year was so special for her," Jameson said, "the marriage of Harley and Kim here at St. Matthew's, Sarah's graduation from Cornell and her challenging new job, and renovating the family home in Bellport."

Hanging over the Mass was how McKinley was, as Jameson put it, "taken swiftly and violently from us."

McKinley died from stab wounds inflicted by an intruder on March 8 as she stayed with a friend in Bellport. A suspect, Robert Schiavo, 20, of Medford, has been arrested and charged in the attack, and has pleaded not guilty.

A memorial service in Bellport for McKinley is being planned, Jameson said.

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Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

LI unemployment rate up . . . Day trip to Ocean Beach . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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