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Keeneland Director of Racing Administration McKee Dies

Lexington track has established fund to benefit her children.

Katherine McKee

Katherine McKee

Courtesy of Keeneland

Katherine Stanley McKee of Lexington passed away peacefully July 27 with her family by her side and under the care of her amazing health care team. Katherine was a lover of life, experiences, her two wonderful children, friends, and family.

The daughter of Herb and Kass McKee, Katherine was born March 17, 1980, and raised in Henderson, Ky., along with her brother, Herbie McKee. Katherine found her home when she moved to Lexington to begin her degree at Transylvania University, where she graduated Suma Cum Laude. Transy was where she met her best friends who all remained close and shared their lives through the years. The group of friends called themselves the "tribe" because they were there for each other through thick and thin, the amazing and fun times and the trying times. They will always treasure their love and time together.

Katherine started her career working at Harvest restaurant in Chevy Chase. It was there she met many of the first contacts in the horse industry first piquing her interest. From there, she applied for a job at BloodHorse magazine, which eventually led her to a 15-year career with the Keeneland Association. In her time at Keeneland, Katherine served as manager of horsemen hospitality and most recently as the director of racing administration. In these roles, Katherine truly served as the front line for horsemen. Her knowledge of Keeneland racing with the focus on the Keeneland mission and safety of horsemen will forever be her legacy. Her dedication and integrity was unmatched, and her spirit was contagious. The Keeneland team meant so much to her and was truly an extension of her family. The Keeneland family will long cherish their friendships and memories of Katherine for years to come.

"As manager of horsemen hospitality and director of racing administration, Katherine McKee's spirit, humor, and selfless heart inspired the Keeneland family for almost 15 years," Keeneland shared in a statement. "Katherine’s passion for Keeneland and commitment to our customers leaves a legacy which will never be forgotten. A devoted mother, loving daughter, sister, and loyal friend, Katherine’s unwavering grace and eternal optimism touched those fortunate enough to know her."  

Katherine loved her children, Ava Katherine Howell and son Walker Stanley Ford Howell more than anything. She taught herself to become an amazing cook, learning to decorate and make crafts to enrich their lives. She made sure they had a good education and were involved in extracurricular activities such as music, theater, and camps. She loved taking them on adventures, exploring, and visiting with friends and family. She treasured the time she and the kids got to spend with cousin Lindsey Gilmer and her daughter, Ella Kate.

Katherine touched the lives of so many. She was warm, selfless, full of life, and brightened every room she entered. Words can never fully express how much she'll be missed.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made for the benefit of her children to the McKee Memorial Trust c/o Keeneland Association, P.O. Box 1690, Lexington, KY 40588 or by visiting A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.