Jack Mackay died on May 27, 2023, and, true to his unshakably good disposition, took all 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 had a close relationship with his stepfather, William Dianni. Jack attended Resurrection Grammar School and he served as an altar boy at 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 were devoted to one another for the next sixty-one years.
Jack Mackay was a simple man; he had no time for ostentation or 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 five children through his actions: he never missed a sporting event involving any of them. Although proud of their achievements, he never interfered or interceded on their behalf, allowing the coaches and game officials to do their jobs, even if he disagreed with them.
As the owner, president, and lone employee of Rye Electric, Mr. Mackay worked tirelessly to support his family. He was fastidious in his work – everything precisely measured, 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. 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 took pride in his country, his church, his Irish ancestry, and his hometown. 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, 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 his 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.
His gruff exterior crumbled in the presence of his grandchildren, both human and canine, and he loved his wife. They seemed, at times, like oil and water, but it was really more yin than yang — 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 a strong bond to God and country, traditional values, and the need to arrive at the airport four hours before a flight.
“We are all certain that it gave Jack great comfort to know that Hurricane Arlene was there until the end,” said their family.
In addition to his wife Arlene, Mr. Mackay is survived by his sons Michael, John, and Matthew, daughter Kathy Mackay McCormick, son-in-law Joe McCormick, daughter-in-law Sydney Mackay; his brother James Dianni, and his sister Mary Anne Dempsey; and his grandchildren Kendall, Kevin, and Collin McCormick and Nolan and Reeve Mackay. He was predeceased by his beloved first-born son, Kevin.
A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated June 3 at Church of the Resurrection in Rye.