John Agret “Mac” Mackay

November 29, 1928 – September 6, 2020
John “Mac” Agret Mackay passed quietly from this life to the next on Sunday, September 6, 2020 at Mountain Lakes, Nelson, BC. He was peaceful and surrounded by family and love.
Mac lived nearly 92 remarkable years. He was born in Montreal, November 29, 1928 to Dr. Agret Albert and Florence Marie (Bruneau) Mackay. His father was the team physician for the Montreal Canadiens. He and his brother Robin, grew up in Westmount and enjoyed summers at Lake Commandant.
He met the love of his life, Nancy Weaver while at McGill University. The day after his last Medical School exam, he married his sweetheart, May 16, 1953. He then interned for a year in Detroit, Michigan prior to moving to Fruitvale BC, in 1954 where he served as the Village Doctor. John practiced family medicine in the Beaver Valley for several years, taking two time-outs for post-graduate studies in Internal Medicine – 2 years at the Lahey Clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, and 2 years at Queens University in Belfast, Ireland.
In 1964, John gained his certifi cation in Internal Medicine and returned to practice in Fruitvale. He practiced Internal Medicine at the Trail Regional Hospital where he and Dr. Harvey Muth established the Renal Unit in 1972. Mac retired in 1991. At this time, John and Nancy moved to Longbeach, near Balfour. In 2012 John and Nancy moved to Nelson, first to High Street Place, then to Lakeview Village and finally to Mountain Lake Senior Community, retaining the family home at “the lake”.
Mac was a man of faith, ideas, passion and action. It is said that “beyond giving a man a fish to eat, or teaching him to fish, we need to give him a fishing rod”. Mac gave many “fishing rods” in his nearly 92 years. He believed in the innate good in people and was humbled to be named Citizen of the Year in Fruitvale in 1988 in recognition of his active participation and outstanding community service in the growth of the Beaver Valley; and again, Citizen of the Year in Nelson in 2008.
He enthusiastically participated in the development of the Beaver Valley Ski Hill, many community projects, the advocacy for and development of the Fruitvale Sewage Treatment plant (affectionately known as “Mackay Lake”), the Trail Renal Unit pioneering dialysis locally, active in the SOS (Save Our Services) movement and advocacy for Kootenay Lake Hospital.
Mac was a philosopher, a golfer, a skier, a fisherman, an avid reader, and an active member of the Anglican Church. He cherished sunsets and nature and had many joyful adventures hiking and canoeing with family and friends. (Broken Islands, Bowron Lakes, West Coast Trail, Chilkoot Trail to name a few).
He had a great sense of humour and was a relentless punster – so many one liners are floating in the air as we recall his ready wit. A curious lifelong learner, Mac and Nancy enjoyed Learning in Retirement courses and new discoveries. Friends and former patients remember Mac as kind, gentle and generous, a man who took the time needed to listen and to support people to feel special and valued.
Every Thursday evening in Fruitvale and every Friday noon in Nelson found him at the piano to play “Oh Canada” for local Rotary club meetings. Mac enjoyed travel and volunteering with Rotary International. Mac was one of the founding members of the Market Children Program in the Kootenay Region. He was a Paul Harris Fellow and in 2019 he and Nancy received lifetime Rotary Memberships.
And then there’s music. Mac was a compulsive harmonica player, carrying one in his pocket at
all times. He played piano with a brilliant touch. He helped start the Second Winds Music Group, and was in demand as a pianist on many occasions. John, Nancy and daughter Jane attended Fiddle Camp for 7 years in a row, accompanying lilting tunes with enthusiasm. He was a valued member of the Mountain Lake House Band, shifting between piano and harmonica and often called to play at singalongs and concerts.
Mac is survived by his beloved wife of 67 years, Nancy, his daughter Jane (Andrew) and son Duncan (Tracey), 8 Grandchildren (Michael, Ian, Kieran, Annika, Charlie, Chelsea, Darin, Brent), 7 Great Grandchildren, extended family and countless friends.
Mac will be greeted in the next life by his parents, son Ian (1977), brother Robin (2018), many dear friends, and dogs Happy, Nell, Beaver, Boomer, Cindy, Ginger, Dinah. Mindful of safety and COVID protocols at this time, a small family service will be held (and recorded) to celebrate Mac’s life. Cremation, and at a future date, interment in the Fruitvale Cemetery.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be made payable to The Rotary Foundation, and mailed to: Rotary Club of Nelson, Mackay Memorial, P.O. Box 374, Nelson, B.C. V1L 5R2 We are so grateful to the team at Thompson Funeral Home and to the staff at Mountain Lake and to Dr. Trevor Janz for their compassion, care and kindness, especially in these pandemic times.
Mac always off ered the “grace notes” to life, the little things. Dr. Mac was well-lived and well-loved – his smiling presence and kindness will be missed and will live on whenever we think of him.
Sarah Stevens of Thompson Funeral Service has been entrusted with arrangements. To leave a personal message of condolence for the family, please visit https://www.thompsonfs.ca/obituary/dr-john-mackay/
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