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In Memory: John Michael “Jack” Mackay, Age 85

Obituary - John Michael -Jack- MackayJack Mackay left this world on Saturday, May 27, 2023, and, true to his unshakable disposition, took all of his grudges with him.

John “Jack” Mackay was born on July 9, 1937, in Yonkers, New York, to Anne (nee Farrell) and Joseph Everett Mackay. When Jack was two years old, his father died, and his family moved to Rye, N.Y. to live with his grandmother. Eventually, his mother remarried and he was very close with his step-father, William Dianni. Jack attended Resurrection Grammar School and he served as an altar boy at the Church of the Resurrection. After graduating from Rye High School in 1955, Jack spent four years proudly serving his country in the U.S. Air Force. Soon after his return home to Rye in 1959, he met Arlene Yozzo. They married two years later and remained together for the next sixty-one years.

Jack was a simple man; he detested ostentation and pretension. He suffered no fools. loudmouths, or “hotdogs,” and he didn’t care if they knew it. He valued humility, integrity, hard work, and accountability. He discouraged his children from boasting: “Let others sing your praises,” he would say. And yet, he bristled at any praise directed toward him – one of his last requests was that there be no eulogy at his funeral (he said nothing of long-winded obituaries). He expressed his love for his children through his actions: he never missed a sporting event for any of his five children. Although proud of their achievements, he refused to interfere or intercede on their behalf – he allowed the coaches and game officials to do their jobs, even if he disagreed with them.

He was industrious. He detested indolence. As the owner, president, and lone employee of Rye Electric, Jack worked tirelessly to support his family. He was fastidious in his work – everything precisely measured and leveled, and measured again. He never sat down on the job. If he wasn’t on his feet, he was crouched in a cramped crawl space or a musty attic. He had the calloused hands of a working man, but, until his final, bed-ridden days, he stood tall and strong, never hunched or infirm from the years of hard labor; he seemed, rather, to be invigorated by the prospect of an honest day’s work. When he returned each day from this job, he didn’t sit in an easy chair with a beer and watch T.V. There was always another job to be done at home: re-shingling the roof, laying the concrete for a new patio; installing a central stereo system, renovating the basement or the bathroom or whatever needed doing. He seemed tireless. And yet, he never complained; he never showed whatever fatigue he may have felt.

Jack was a proud man, and he was not quick to forgive a slight. He took pride in his country, his church, his Irish ancestry, and his home town of Rye. He was a volunteer fireman with the Rye Fire Department, which he cherished as both a civic duty and a fraternity. He participated in their Thursday-night bowling league and took his family to the fireman’s picnic every summer and to the pancake breakfasts after weekly Sunday mass. When they weren’t fighting fires (which was most of the time), the firehouse was a social club, and Jack would stop by almost daily for a cup of coffee and a laugh or two with the local cast of characters. Although Jack’s outward demeanor could at times be gruff, or, at best, stoic, it was at the firehouse that he allowed his quick wit and childlike joviality to emerge. Also, his gruff exterior crumbled in the presence of his grandchildren (both human and canine).

Finally, Jack loved his wife, Arlene. They seemed, at times, like oil and water, but it was really more yin and yang or, more precisely, complementary contrary forces. Arlene was a free spirit who loved travel and adventure. She cooked without recipes or measuring cups. She was spontaneous and loved to “play it by ear,” whatever “it” happened to be. As one friend put it, “Jack is the calm that accompanies Hurricane Arlene.” They did, however, share their strong bond to God and country, their traditional values, and their need to arrive at the airport four hours before a flight. And we are all certain that it gave Jack great comfort to know that Hurricane Arlene was there until the end.

Jack is survived by his wife, Arlene, sons Michael, John, and Matthew, daughter Kathy Mackay McCormick, son-in-law Joe McCormick, daughter-in-law Sydney Spagnoletti Mackay, brother James Dianni, sister Mary Anne Dempsey (nee Mackay) and grandchildren Kendall, Kevin, and Collin McCormick, and Nolan and Reeve Mackay. Jack is predeceased by his beloved first-born son, Kevin.

The family will receive friends at the Graham Funeral Home on Friday June 2, 2023 from 4:00-7:00 PM. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Saturday June 3, 2023 at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye, NY at 10:00 AM.

4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Friday, June 2, 2023
Graham Funeral Home
1036 Boston Post Road
Rye, New York, United States

10:00 am
Saturday, June 3, 2023
Church of the Resurrection
910 Boston Post Road
Rye, New York, United States


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