Cover photo for Trisha McKay's Obituary
Trisha McKay Profile Photo

Trisha McKay

d. December 22, 2022

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Trisha McKay died peacefully in her sleep on 22 December 2022, aged 79, after a long series of painful and debilitating health issues. Despite her growing frailty, she never lost her greatest charm – a shrewd sense of humour with impeccable timing.

As just a school-girl, Trisha played the oboe well enough to be invited to perform a solo at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She nailed it and received a rousing ovation (and later declined an invitation to Juilliard). After the concert, her photo adorned the front page of the widely circulated Atlanta Journal Sunday paper - an honour she comically begrudged her entire life (she disliked the photo).

This anecdote may capture Trish – a creative and wilful woman who was both diversely talented and amusingly proud.

Her earliest dear friend was Ellen Borland, next-door neighbours as girls, they would remain close for seventy years. They shared everything from childhood games and teenage pranks to the aches and pains of ageing.

Trisha would fall in love with and marry Ellen’s elder brother, Jim Williamson, with whom she would go hiking, explore caves and climb mountains for many years. They had three children, Debra Denice, Kathryn Annice, and Richard McKay Williamson.

Jim and Trish divorced after 10 years, forcing Trish to reinvent herself. She later felt this period was the crucible of her life. She worked three jobs while raising three young children, at a time when divorce carried a heavy social stigma. She considered herself a ‘late bloomer’ who found herself during the ordeal. She became a career woman, smoked Virginia Slims and worked ‘nine to five’, climbing the corporate ladder before Dolly Parton made it a thing. She worked at Weyerhaeuser Paper, then Georgia Pacific, and spent nearly forty years ascending to senior administrative roles.

During this time, she earned her sobriquet ‘Trish the Dish’ due to her disarming beauty, fabulous legs, and sparkling charisma. She could be the life of a party. She played darts with a local league of friends – her specialty was hitting ‘trip 18s’. Truly, she loved any sort of game. Card games. Board games. Murder mystery. For many years, Trish and several friends took a road trip ‘without the boys’ to play poker, be girls, and ensure what went on tour, stayed on tour.

Her deeper love was music. She played piano with twinkling grace, including elegant renditions of Beethoven. But she preferred music you could dance to. From a waltz or jitterbug to the grooving blues of BB King or Muddy Waters, there was no step she could not follow, no dance she had not mastered.

It was during a night out dancing in Atlanta in the mid 80s that she met George Haynie, with whom she would enjoy 30 years of companionship, until his death. They cooked and sailed together, and as anyone who ever saw them would tell you, those two could dance. They moved together like silk and the smile never left her face.

Throughout the 90s George and Trisha regularly hosted festive evenings where their kids’ friends were made to feel warmly welcome. Between the pool table, the juke box, and the dart board, many hours of revelry were enjoyed, countless memories were made.

In 2007 Trish suffered a devastating stroke. It ravaged the left side of her body and put her in a wheelchair. Among other injuries, and later ailments, she suffered a severe drop foot which became a nearly constant source of intense pain until the day she died. Alcohol became part of her pain management routine, which had various unfortunate side effects.

Regardless, there were several constants throughout the 'triumphs and disasters' of her life. She had a steely courage. Long before women had a compassionate support network regarding equality issues, she was at the vanguard of true feminism, living her life as she believed was right. She did it ‘her way’.

She had a daring wisdom. Life lessons she lived and shared include ‘pick your battles’ revealing her pragmatism, ‘acceptance is half the battle’ revealing her self-awareness, and ‘you get further with honey than vinegar’ revealing her emotional intelligence. She was not only a soldier on the front lines of feminism, but her uniform was an elegant dress and high-heels, with a splash of Chanel No 5.

And she was wickedly funny, right up to the end. Through all the desolating pain, through the various indignities of ageing, through the heartbreak of losing her George and her pet dog Daisy, she could deliver that insightfully hilarious one-liner that would both surprise you and make everything alright again.

The only daughter of Richard McKay and Frances Burns, Trisha is survived by her three children and seven grandchildren - Tara, Ben, Macy, Nathan, Charlotte, Katelyn and Freya.


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