McKay, Clara


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.

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Tribute wall - a place to share your memories and condolences

LeeAnne & Stacey Ellertson

From our family to yours, Aunt Clara will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May God comfort you with a peace that surpasses human understanding.

Carolyn Coutts

The Day girls Betty, Carolyn, Marjorie, Kathy, Judy and Janice have made a donation to the Alzheimer Society of Canada in memory of your Mom, Clara McKay,

LeAnne Kostyk

Mrs. McKay was my 4th grade teacher at Livingstone School. She was such a kind and caring teacher to all of her students. I have such fond memories of her. My thoughts go out to her family at this difficult time!

Roberta Roth

Hi, Ian, I am sending my prayers and sympathy on your mom’s death. She was a great friend and colleague here at Lundbreck. I still use the daily perpetual calendar that she gave me in 1997. I will always treasure our birthday phone calls after she moved away.
Hugs to you.

Barbara Tustian Pharis

My sincere sympathy to Ian

Clara was the best teacher that I had, a very kind person

Betty Smith

I am sorry to hear of Clara’s death. She was my grade four teacher the first year she came to Cowley and She taught most of the kids in my extended family: Day, Snyder, Smyth, Tustian. She was a valued member of the Cowley Community and friends of everyone she knew. She made a bigger impression on me than I realized that year as it was about that time I decided I wanted to be a teacher. Eventually we were actually colleagues. I have bragged that as an 80-year-old, my grade four teacher still enjoyed life. My sympathies, Ian and Renate

Marjorie Benson (Day)

Ian, I am sorry to hear about your Mom. She was the best teacher I had all through school at Cowley and Lundbreck – had her for a teacher in grades 1, &4-6 and remember when she moved into the tiny house on the corner of the school yard. She was always so calm and kind to her students.

Carolyn (Day) Coutts

Clara McKay was my teacher from Grade 2 to Grade 6 in Cowley. I loved her. She had Grade’s 1 to 6 in her classroom and was kind to all.
In later years she still remembered her students and loved to hear from them.
My condolences to all the family.

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