Robert “Bob” Mackay died at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital on Feb. 29, 2016, just 10 months after the death of his wife Marion. He was surrounded by his entire beloved family.
Bob was born in Glasgow, Scotland on Dec. 8, 1932. He attended the famous Scotland Street School (now a museum), designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, where a lifelong passion for football (called soccer in the U.S.) began. Bob became a well-respected footballer, and maintained his interest and involvement in the sport his entire life, following his beloved Glasgow Rangers and the Barclays Premier League. He enlisted in the army and was assigned to the Highland Light Infantry, which secured the Suez Canal in the 1950s, with assignments in Egypt and Malta. After his discharge from military service, he met and married Marion Bruce Mackay, the love and center of his life for the next six decades. He worked in the publishing department at the Scottish Daily Express for many years, until the Glasgow office shut down in 1974. This was the pivotal event that led Bob and his wife Marion to their decision to emigrate with their four children to the U.S., and landed them on Martha’s Vineyard.
Bob found work as a plumber, and worked for LaBell Plumbing & Heating for many years, during which time he built a home and immersed himself in the community. Later in life he could be found behind the counter at Supply New England, offering plumbing advice and tips and usually a joke or two to all who entered.
Proud of his Scottish heritage, Bob was one of the founding directors of the Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard, where each year at the Burns Supper he recited all eight verses of the “Ode to a Haggis” from memory, which was always one of the highlights of the evening. Later, in an ironic turn of events, he was elected president of the Portuguese-American Club, where his steady and thoughtful leadership helped accomplish some great things, including the planning and construction of the “new section” of the club. Bob was a member of the Masonic Lodge. He was an integral part of the creation of Martha’s Vineyard Youth Soccer, which has grown into a hugely popular and successful organization. He lent his accent and acting skills to the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School production of “Brigadoon.”
Those who met Bob were entranced, first by his thick Scottish accent, then by his undeniable charm and humor. Bob was always wonderfully upbeat, and never uttered a complaint and if you didn’t understand the punchline of one of his (sometimes long) stories or jokes, he’d be happy to tell it all again from the beginning.
Bob and his wife Marion enjoyed a very active social life. They loved to dance and were regulars when the PA Club used to have Saturday-night dances, often in the company of their dear friends June and Bobby, Hazel and Billy, Kaye and Joe, and Gloria and Buddy.
Bob loved and doted on his family. One of his greatest joys was spending time with his grandchildren, and supporting them in all their activities.
He leaves behind his daughter Marion Ellis, her husband Mark and their children Max and Leah, daughter Fiona Townes, her husband Richard and their children Shawn, Nick and his wife Kathryn, Kylie and her husband Bobbie, daughter Lesley Williamson, her husband Greg and their children Andrew and Ellie, and son Robert Mackay. He also leaves behind brothers-in-law Norman Bruce and wife Joan of Australia, and Ian Scott of Scotland; many nieces and nephews; and a host of wonderful friends. He was predeceased by his beloved sister, Margaret Scott of Scotland, in 2014.
A celebration of Bob’s life will be held on Saturday, March 12, at the P.A. Club in the new section, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.
Donations in Bob’s memory may be made to the Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1895, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568; Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568; or the Portuguese-American Club, P.O. Box 2203, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs.