Melba Emma McKay

August 13, 2010 

Melba Emma McKay

August 13, 2010 

Obituary for Melba Emma McKay

Melba Emma McKay (nee Gishler) B.A.

January 7, 1913 to August 13, 2010. Melba died peacefully in her sleep at the Community Nursing Home in Port Perry. Melba was born in Shakespeare, Ontario, the fourth child of Rev. Ernst and Emma Gishler. She is survived by her four children William (Sally Tufts), Elspeth (Paul Deir), Roderick (Marlene Misiuda), and Catherine (Marvin Stevenson); and their children: Megan, Benjamin, Kristen, Andrew, Matthew, Peter, Emily, Jordan, Alex, and James; and great-grandchildren Ewan, Flavie, Anna, Carter and Jacob. Melba leaves her brother-in-law Donald McKay (Thelma), sister-in-law Doreen McKay, and nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and nephews. Melba was predeceased by sisters Ruth and Esther, brother Paul, and husband Bill.

Melba --“Grammy” to everyone who has known her in the past 40 years -- was noted for her wonderful sense of humour, her kindness to all, and her devotion to her large family. A daughter of the manse, she lived in many towns and cities across the country. She attended the University of Manitoba during the 1930’s, where she used her exceptional talents at the piano to accompany the Glee Club. She met and dated one of the tenors who would later become her husband, Bill McKay. She graduated into a teaching career in Depression-ridden rural Manitoba, moved to Ottawa, and returned to the West to marry Bill during the Second World War. After the war, the McKay's moved to Pickering, where Melba became a founder of Pickering Township Museum and worked on the award-winning Tweedsmuir History of the township while continuing to teach developmentally delayed students in elementary schools in Pickering. An avid collector of Canadiana, particularly Nova Scotia pressed glass and Ontario pine furniture, Melba cheerfully passed on her treasures to her children and grandchildren -- a typical Grammy act of kindness.

Melba and Bill moved to Port Perry after 30 years on their farm in Pickering. Melba enjoyed life as Grammy to her growing family, played the piano, attended many Toronto Symphony concerts, and loved life at the orchard and in her friendly rural community. During her last few years, she lived placidly at the Community Nursing Home.

The family of Melba McKay will receive friends at the Wagg Funeral Home, 216 Queen Street, in Port Perry on Sunday August 15 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9pm. A Service to celebrate her life will be held in Utica United Church on Monday August 16 at 2pm. Interment Hillman Cemetery, Utica. If desired, memorial donations may be made by cheque to the Port Perry Hospital Foundation or the Epsom/Utica United Church Memorial Fund. Online condolences may be left at

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  • 216 Queen Street
    Port Perry, ON
    L9L 1B9
  • 905-985-2171

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