McKenna ChristineChristine McKenna with her daughter, Kayla, and Mayor-elect Pasquale Menna on election night 2006, at left; at right, with Kayla at a sendoff for her husband the following month.

Christine McKenna, the wife of former Red Bank Mayor Ed McKenna, died this morning after a long battle with cancer.

Her death, at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, was confirmed by Mayor Pasquale Menna.

She was 58 years old.

Menna says Christine McKenna, a longtime nurse, was "the anchor in so many ways" to the borough's 16-year mayor.

"They met at college, and it's been an enduring and strong partnership," Menna said of the McKennas. "She was the wife of the mayor, but she was so much more than that."

Among her many roles, she managed the campaigns for Democratic council candidates in recent elections and served as an alternate on the borough planning board. She was active in numerous fundraising efforts on behalf of of such beneficiaries as local schools and the KaBoom fireworks.

Councilman Mike DuPont, a law partner to Ed McKenna, called her "a bright, compassionate wife, mom and first lady of Red Bank."

The couple have two young adult children, Sean and Kayla.

A self-described fighter, Mrs. McKenna was "fiercely protective" of her husband and children, and "stern but fair," DuPont said. "She was able to be loving in even greater measure," he said.

A funeral mass is planned for Monday at St. James RC Church. Other
details of her funeral were not immediately available.

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