1925 - 2021
It is with heavy hearts the family of Robert (Bert) McKay of Blackfalds, AB announce his peaceful passing at the Bentley Care Centre on November 11, 2021 at the age of 96.
Bert is survived by his loving wife Audrey of 70 years, his three daughters, Anne (Chris) Wilson, Wendy (Gordon) Scott, and Valerie (Dwight) Grauman all of Lacombe, AB. He is also survived by seven grandchildren and spouses, 19 great grandchildren, sister Marjorie (Don) Tetz, and sister-in-law Islay McKay.
Bert is predeceased by an infant daughter, Audrey in 1952, his father Robert McKay in 1932, his mother Mary McKay McEwan in 1996 and his step-father Bill McEwan in 1970. Bert is also predeceased by his brother Jim McKay, sister Ava Glenn, brother Johnny McEwan, and grandson in-law Aaron Radke.
Bert was born in Lacombe on March 2, 1925, and was raised one mile east of Blackfalds. Bert’s first paid job away from home was in the winter of 1945 when he worked at a lumber camp west of Rocky Mountain House skidding logs out of the bush with teams of horses. He was the teamster for his crew, and was always proud of his crew as they worked well together, and many days brought out the most logs.
He and his brother Jim moved to a farm five miles west of Blackfalds in 1948, and Bert lived there for 73 years until June of 2021. He married Audrey Gordon on August 8, 1951 and together they farmed until the early 2000s. Bert tried to quit farming a few times, but following three separate auction sales more cattle and equipment kept mysteriously appearing in the yard.
Bert first met Audrey when he and his brother Jim would time things perfectly to hitch a ride to school in Blackfalds. The boys would just happen to be at the gate when Audrey and her sister Jean would go by with their one-horse, two-wheeled cart. The boys would ride out on their bikes and each grab one side of the cart and get towed into Blackfalds. Bert and Jim let go of the cart at the bottom of the dip in the road, so none of the classmates would see them hitching a ride from the Gordon girls.
Bert was a true farmer. With a little time and ingenuity, he could figure out almost anything. He was a millwright before he knew what a millwright was. He could fix or figure out a solution to most problems. Bert was a mixed enterprise farmer. In the early days he milked cows and sold the milk in milk cans he hauled to the corner for pick-up. In later years he raised Black Angus cattle, and after he sold that herd raised Blonde Aquitaine cattle. He put up hay, grew wheat, barley and canola. Later in life he became a skilled wood worker. He made desks, coffee tables, benches, china cabinets, and four beautiful grandfather clocks, and anything else he was asked to tackle.
Bert did have health problems in his life, and was one of the earlier patients in Alberta to have a pace maker implanted in 1970. Over the years he had many pacer replacements. Some operations went smoothly as planned and some ended with severe complications and long stays in the U of A hospital. After one such complicated surgery, Bert was home for a month or two when a steel gate fell on him. Someone said, “That man has nine lives.”
Bert grew up farming with horses, and along with his skidding experience at the lumber camp and then feeding his own cattle with a team, he considered himself a competent teamster. Years later when his granddaughter wanted to teach one of her horses to drive, Bert was giving her some advice. He said harness the horse up to the sleigh in the winter and take him out the deep snow and if he runs away – let him run. Bert’s brother-in-law leaned over quietly and said: “Not sure if I’d take advice from your grandpa; I’ve never seen anybody getting into more wrecks than him!”
Bert was also credited with teaching some of his grandchildren to drive. He’d let any of them get in a vehicle or piece of equipment, and see what they could do. On one occasion he let his granddaughter drive the bale wagon, and later told her she did pretty good. “Those things can be a bit tippy!” Another time he let his granddaughter drive home from church, and he was sound asleep before they got out of town.
On the surface Bert was a pretty sober guy, but he had a good sense of humour. Once, after a dental surgery his face was very swollen right up to his eyes, and he had gauze stuck in his mouth and generally looked pretty rough. Before getting in the truck he stopped to look in the mirror and when asked what he was doing, he replied: “Just checking to see if I still have my good looks!”
Bert’s greatest passions were his faith, family and farming. His strong faith was always an example to his family, and gave him a thankful heart for all his blessings through his entire life. Even in Bert’s last days at the Bentley Care Centre, his prayers were giving thanks to his Lord Jesus for every day he had, and for the care he received.
Bert had a very good, long life, and can say with confidence:
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.”
II Timothy 4: 7,8.
A Private family service will be held on Wednesday November 17, 2021 at Wilson's Funeral Chapel.
If desired, memorial donations can be made in Bert's name to Camp Little Red, https://www.camplittlered.com/donate/, or to The Lacombe Health Trust, https://54095.thankyou4caring.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=298 , specified to the Bentley Care Centre.
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