John F. MacKAY, LTC, US Army Retired, died April 16th, 2022 peacefully in his home with his family by his side. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, brother in-law, uncle, and friend. Distinctive from the beginning, he was born on Leap Year (February 29th), 1932, the son of Lester D. and Ruth (Ward) MacKAY, in Everett MA.
His is survived by his childhood sweetheart and loving wife of 67 years, Ann Marie (McEleney) MacKAY, his five children and their spouses, Thomas, Kathleen Kane (Arthur), Timothy (Dawn), Christine Dunbar (Scott), and Sean (Denise).
10 cherished grandchildren: Ryan (Becca) & Heather Dunbar, Jonathan, Joshua, & Joseph MacKAY, Maggie & Jenny Kane, Finley, Evan, & Alice MacKAY and five great-grandchildren; his brother Joseph, sisters-in-law Elaine MacKAY, Lorraine MacKAY and Barbara (McEleney) Barnes; brothers-in-law Frederic Kelley and Roger Barnes and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his grandchildren, baby Eli John MacKAY, Patrick Kane and Christopher Kennedy; daughter-in-law Angelika Kennedy MacKAY; brothers Robert and Frederick, sisters Charlotte (Byrne) and Dorothy (Singleton); brothers-in-law Robert Byrne, David Singleton, and sisters-in-law Winifred MacKAY, and Margaret (McEleney) Kelley.
John lived his life to the fullest making a difference with all he encountered. Growing up in Everett, MA., John was always busy whether collecting items for the war effort, shining shoes, working the counter at the local drug store, working with his father at his hardware store or roofing and painting houses together or as a steeplejack, John was laying the foundation that would typify his life, making things better. After graduating from Everett High School in 1950 and showcasing his “Jack of all Trades” skills, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1952.
Recognized for his strong work ethic and leadership skills, he was designated for the highly competitive Army “Mustang” program transitioning from enlisted to officer, becoming a Second Lieutenant in 1954 and beginning what became a 21- year career serving his country. A man of integrity who earned the respect, admiration, and loyalty of his fellow peers and troops, he spent much of his early Army years commanding Engineers in France, Korea, Germany, Vietnam, and the United States, with his organizations consistently nominated for awards for excellence. A testament to his leadership he was selected to command the 52nd Engineers (Toul, France), as a Second Lieutenant. His impact was so great he was invited to attend unit reunions and was honored by the men he served with. A valued teacher and mentor, he was twice assigned to the teaching faculty at the Engineer School in Fort Belvoir, VA., ensuring the force was trained for the challenges they would face. A stellar instructor, he trained a generation of Engineers in Nuclear Demolition, Bridging, and Demolition and Mine Warfare.
He was again selected for command in 1960, when he was assigned to Korea as the Company Commander for the 547th Engineer Company (Float Bridge) which had critical bridging missions in the event of re-escalations of hostilities in Korea. Often cited for superior performance, John molded this company into one of the finest Engineer units in the Service. He again was selected for command as he led the men of the Engineer Tech Intelligence group within the 513th Intelligence Group in Oberursel, Germany during the height of the Cold War.
After two tours in Vietnam, first in 1967, as the Executive Officer for the 39th Engineer Battalion (Combat) of Task Force Oregon and again in 1971 as the Director of Material Engineer Command, and two assignments as the Active Duty Army Advisor to the Maine National Guard’s 262nd Engineer Battalion, he retired in Bangor with numerous awards and decorations, most notably the Bronze Star with V device, for Valor, and the Legion of Merit.
Embarking on his second career, in 1975 he became the Director of Support Services at the Community Health and Counseling Services in Bangor. He oversaw the expansion of the Counseling Center’s services to include expanding community and mental health, home health, and upgraded outpatient care. He was instrumental in broadening the reach of the Counseling Center across multiple cities and counties in central Maine, especially focused on serving those in need.
Ever the public servant, John refused to believe John Bapst High School should be closed in 1980. Within 3 months, he, and three fellow dedicated parents, (Bill Lindsey, Earle Hannigan, Joseph Sekera) petitioned the diocese, worked with the former staff, and incorporated a new school. John Bapst Memorial High School reopened in September of 1980 as a private school. He was named a charter member of the Board of Trustees. Their success preserved this fine school as an alternative for students in Bangor, as well as surrounding communities. Watching it grow into one of the top private schools in New England.
Never one to sit still, in 1984 with his late friend and business partner, Bill Lindsey, he opened Mac-Lin Medical providing medical and homecare products and services to eastern, central, and northern Maine. They provided affordable products, from hospital beds to wheelchairs, as well as a wide variety of at-home ongoing maintenance and care, often at a discounted rate. Serving their patients was their primary goal.
He also served as a member or volunteer in many local organizations, to include: Military Order of World Wars, Retired Officers Association, American Legion, Military Officers Association of America, St Mary’s Church, St Paul the Apostle Parish, Penquis Cap, United Way of Eastern ME., Multiple Sclerosis Society (where he maintained an inventory for free loan to disabled individuals), Board of St Mary’s school and John Bapst Memorial HS., where he served as both member and President.
His versatility was mirrored in his hospitality, always entertaining his friends and family with witty puns, plays on words, or when he couldn’t be with you in person, he’d have a card for every occasion, with personalized riddles or boxes of sweets and treats in the mail.
John loved life but not the limelight – his quiet caring and leadership can be felt across the city and throughout the country. He was a man of deep faith and devotion to his family, community, and country. He was never too busy to help with the needs of another. Whenever his name was mentioned, you would always hear about his many kind deeds over the years. Today we lost a Quiet Hero.
Relatives and friends are invited to call 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at Brookings-Smith, 133 Center St., Bangor. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 12:00 noon Wednesday, April 27, 2022 at St Paul the Apostle Parish, St. John’s Catholic Church, 217 York St., Bangor., and live streamed at https://stpaulbangor.me/watch-mass-live.
Condolences to the family may be expressed at BrookingsSmith.com.