It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of Clara McKay on April 25th, 2020, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 92.
Clara is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Ian and Renate McKay and by her sister, Elsie Orton. She was predeceased by her husband James McKay, and by siblings Olga Paul, Otto Rentz, Erna Paul, Robert Rentz, Emil Rentz, Mary Gruenke, Walter Rentz, Frieda Johnson and Irvin Rentz.
Clara was born on December 1st, 1927, in Karolinow, Poland, to Ludwig and Lydia Rentz. In the summer of 1928, Ludwig and Lydia left Poland with the infant Clara and her four older siblings and immigrated to Canada. Ludwig and Lydia knew that they would never see their relatives and friends again. They traveled from Gdansk to Halifax by boat and from there to Edmonton by train. They settled on a farm near Barrhead, Alberta.
As a young girl, Clara attended a small two-room schoolhouse in Mellowdale, a rural district near Barrhead. After a year of school in Barrhead, along with some correspondence courses, she completed high school.
In the fall of 1945, she attended a 4-month-long “War emergency” teachers’ training course at the University of Alberta. Immediately upon completing the course and two months after her 18th birthday, she found herself teaching school in Evansburg, Alberta.
In 1948 she accepted a new teaching assignment in Cowley Alberta, where she would live for the next 45 years. On October 19th, 1949, she married Jim and on December 22nd, 1961, she and Jim welcomed their only son, Ian, into the world.
Small schools were closed, and larger ones were built. Clara’s occupation moved to Livingstone School in nearby Lundbreck. There she taught – fourth grade for the most part – until her retirement in June of 1984. In so doing, she touched the lives of nearly everyone who grew up in the surrounding area. Several area families can claim both parents and children as former students of hers.
Jim, Clara and Ian faithfully attended Foothills United Church in Cowley. Clara taught Sunday School and served as Treasurer of the small Church for many years.
After they both retired, Jim and Clara filled their days with their respective passions, Jim tending the garden and Clara with reading, cooking and seemingly endless crossword puzzles. They enjoyed several vacations together: throughout Europe and the Middle East as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Time passed. Ian moved away from home, first to University in Edmonton and then to work in California. Jim passed away on December 19th, 1990.
In 1993, Clara decided that she would like to move closer to siblings and her numerous nieces and nephews. She relocated to Spruce Grove, Alberta, a small, but rapidly growing city near Edmonton.
While in Spruce Grove, Clara attended St. Andrew’s United Church, which was right across the street from her home. She was extremely active in that community, working in the Church’s thrift shop, volunteering at bake sales and the annual croissant sale and, yes, serving as treasurer.
Ultimately, she sold her home in Spruce Grove and moved to an apartment in a senior’s complex in Edmonton. When she needed additional care, she moved to Shepherd’s Care nursing home in the Kensington district of Edmonton.
Her passing has been met with an outpouring of goodwill from friends and acquaintances in Southern Alberta, those who knew her in Edmonton and members of her extended family. Everyone who met Clara spoke fondly of her.
A memorial event will be held online. Interment at Barrhead cemetery will follow once pandemic restrictions are lifted. In lieu of flowers, please make donations either to Alzheimer Society Canada or St. Andrew’s United Church in Spruce Grove.