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Life Story / Obituary
Andrew McKay was passionate about his family and was blessed with a great smile and a warm personality. He enjoyed every moment of his life; Andrew was passionate about his work, his outdoor activities and his time spent out on the water- amongst so many other simple and everyday pleasures. He was a loving husband, a caring and devoted father, and a cherished grandfather and friend to many, and he will never be forgotten.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first term in office during the year of 1953 proved to be an exciting and popularly historic time. Marilyn Monroe and Peter Pan were common household names, and families everywhere anxiously anticipated the half hour airing of “I Love Lucy.” Though that particular program never broadcasted in color, this was the year a lucky viewer could actually purchase a color capable television set. The standard of living was steadily growing, and people were happily hula hooping while listening to rock -n- roll. Times were pretty good - especially for Donald and Patricia (Bigelow) McKay, as they prepared to meet their precious son. Andrew was welcomed into the world on September 24, 1953, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Andrew was one of three children who made the family complete.
Andrew lived his childhood creating memories with his sister, Vickie, and his brother, Tim. They spent many hours happily playing together at their home which was located on the Northeast side of the city in Plainfield Township. Though there were a few typical squabbles within their home, the majority of the time, all three kids supported and loved one another. Their family had a strong bond and staying that way was important to all of them even in challenging times.
Early on, Andrew attended Northview Elementary School and then Northview High School. During his teenage years, he thoroughly enjoyed his time in high school. He was social and had many friends. He was on the football team and proudly wore the #75 jersey. His team was amazing and won every game, going undefeated, throughout his entire high school career! He was voted the Prom King in his senior year and enjoyed all the memories of that exciting time. In the summertime’s of his youth, his family would visit their property on Slayton Lake near Grattan. The whole family loved being outdoors and spent hours out on the lake fishing. This sentimental place had a great impact on Andrew and his appreciation for the outdoors throughout his entire life. In 1971, he graduated from high school and decided to try college.
After a year of more school, Andrew decided to take a different path in life and obtained a job with CSX Railroad where he stayed for 40 years! He worked on the tracks and traveled all over the country to complete the work. It was the perfect job for him because he loved being outdoors all the time. Once he had his life on track as an adult, it was only a matter of time before love found him.
Andrew was out enjoying some good music at one of his favorite places called Billy’s. As soon as she appeared, Andrew took notice. Her name was Jan Wiersma, and she walked in with her friend, Sherri. The two became acquainted and the rest is history! They dated for a bit of time and eventually decided to get married.
The newlyweds settled into a home located in Saranac, Michigan and began their adventure in life together. It was not long before their adventure included a bigger family. Together, Andrew and Jan welcomed two children, Rebecca and Andrew. Much of the time, the family also welcomed many pets into their home, as Jan worked at a veterinary clinic. Andrew had a special place in his heart for many of these pets as well as the family dogs, ‘Kali Jo’ and ‘Brady’. The McKay’s also had pets outside their home, in a small farming area, in the form of a cow and pig, which they affectionately named and loved.
Andrew passed along his interests and admiration for the outdoors to his children, as they grew up visiting his childhood lake in addition to the cabin they had near Kalkaska on the Manistee River. At the cabin, they would hunt and fish and celebrate good times together along with friends who would visit. On Slayton Lake, Andrew loved to cruise around on his pontoon boat soaking up the sunshine and the fresh air that only lake life can provide. Some delicious meals were also enjoyed when Andrew’s hands were in the role of chef, as he was a natural in the kitchen and while manning the grill. When they were just relaxing at home, Andrew spent a great deal of time cultivating an impressive vegetable garden and beautiful flowers around the yard. In early spring, and before there was too much to do in the gardens, Andrew would tap the Maple trees and make delectable maple syrup that he made this syrup for his Dad. He always said “I don’t care if I only get enough for one pancake!”
As time progressed, and their children matured and found a love of their own, Andrew and Jan found they had time to spend together again as a couple. They shared many joys during this time, but the best parts were when they watched as grandchildren began to bless their lives one by one. Andrew loved spending time with each of them and continued to share his passion for the simple things in life. Life took a difficult turn in 2012 when Jan suffered an illness and eventually passed away while Andrew remained lovingly by her side. This was followed by another sad period in life during which Andrew helped care for his ailing father. He was able to endure these challenges with the help of his family and friends. After some time of healing, Andrew carried his memories of Jan close to his heart but found the spirit to find happiness again.
It was time for Andrew to enjoy retirement after many committed years to CSX Railroad. Fate must have received a call about this change because not long after he was given another gift of love in his life. Karol Lee Koopman was a presence in his life, long ago, during his elementary school days. Andrew caught Karol’s eye in the 4th grade when they attended a fishing trip. She even kept photos of the memories - many of which included Andrew as a young man. Thanks to the invention of Facebook, Andrew and Karol were reacquainted. After some communication back and forth, they decided to meet in person. Karol, who confessed she had voted for Andrew to become Prom King, was absolutely thrilled to have the pleasure of Andrew’s company as an adult! Their different paths in life, filled with equal joys and trials, eventually led them to a wonderful place together in which they chose to unite in love. Andrew and Karol celebrated their marriage on April 30, 2016, in a ceremony along the shore of the Rouge River in Rockford. The newlyweds happily moved into the home in which Andrew grew up on the north-side and remodeled it to their liking. They had wonderful times together and made up for all the years they were apart.
Life has its way of creating constant challenges, and in December of last year, Andrew was given the diagnosis of cancer. He faced this illness with determination and in the most positive way imaginable. Unable to stand up for the fight any longer, Andrew entered the hospital and lost the battle to his disease. He was courageous throughout the struggle and fought with all his energy until his final breath. He will be greatly missed and remembered as a wonderful and warm person with a great love for his family.
McKay – Mr. Andrew A. McKay, aged 63 of Plainfield Township passed away Thursday April 6, 2017. He was preceded in death by his parents Donald and Patricia McKay, his wife of 29 years Jan M. McKay. Surviving are his wife Karol Lee McKay, his children: Rebecca and Doug Anchors, Andrew E. McKay; his grandchildren: Ian, Gabriella and Lucy Anchors, Karol’s children: Kerrie and Drew LeBlanc, Shanna and Tim Meissner and grandchildren: Katelyn Siebert, Kaleb Siebert, Timmy Meissner, Ariel LeBlanc and Crosby LeBlanc; his brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Karen McKay, his sister and brother-in-law, Vickie and Craig Van Otteren and several nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews. Andrew was a 1971 graduate of Northview High School and a retiree of CSX Railroad. Relatives and friends are invited to visit with his family Sunday from 3 to 6 P.M. at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Van Strien – Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield N.E. and where a memorial service will be held Monday at 11 A.M. For those who wish, memorial contributions to the American Cancer Society would be appreciated. To read more of Andrew’s life, share a memory or sign the online register book please visit www.lifestorynet.com