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Rockville Centre mayor’s niece dies after eight-year fight with cancer

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Kimiko Schroder, a niece of Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray, died on Jan. 6 at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, Calif., after an eight-year battle with cancer. She was 12.

“She earned her well-deserved wings yesterday morning,” Murray said at a village board meeting on Jan. 7. “She fought as hard as she could for as long as she could against neuroblastoma,” a cancer often found in the adrenal glands, above the kidneys.

Though Kimiko lived in San Diego, she spent time in Rockville Centre with Murray, and his wife, Barbara, when she was being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. Barbara was her acting mother, Murray noted, traveling to California to help Kimiko’s father, Peter, who was a single parent.

“She was an extremely intelligent, very witty and precocious little girl,” Barbara said, “but her most important quality, I would say, was her courage.”

Though Kimiko was diagnosed with cancer at age 4, Barbara added, she never complained, and enjoyed a range of activities when not in treatment, including rock climbing, indoor skydiving, snorkeling and tubing. “She was extremely active and never, ever let cancer take control of her life,” Barbara said.

Even when a tumor on Kimiko’s spine resulted in the loss of the use of her legs in September, Barbara noted, she stayed positive and focused on what she could achieve.

Mayor Murray recalled that Kimiko used to march with him in Rockville Centre’s St. Patrick’s Parade, and even spoke to several hundred people a few years ago at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s event at the St. Agnes Parish Center, which each year raises money for childhood cancer research.

“Our family would like to thank this entire community who embraced her dad, Peter, our family, and especially Kimi, when she was on her journey for a cure,” Murray said.

A memorial Mass was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday at St. Agnes Cathedral.