Larry McKay was born at Port Orchard’s Harrison Hospital in 1943 and spent his childhood in West Seattle, where he and his younger brother Dale used to explore Lincoln Park.
Larry was always a model big brother.
In that same park he taught Dale valuable lessons in navigation by ditching him in the middle of the woods and heading home.
He also made sure Dale had new tennis shoes whenever he needed them.
He showed Dale how to jam the toe of his old tennis shoe into the escalator stair at JCPenney then run to the store clerks with the damaged shoe.
The clerk would get anxious and offer a brand new pair off the shelves while ushering him out of the store.
Worked every time.
Larry’s mom died when he was 13 and some rough years followed, but at 18 he joined the Navy and excelled as a radioman while based in San Diego.
In 1965, after four years, he was honorably discharged from the Navy without ever once stepping foot on a boat—an accomplishment he was especially proud of though no award ceremony materialized.
In 1966, he met his wife Katie Donahoe in Spokane.
They married later that year and had their only son Patrick on September 1, 1967.
Two weeks later Larry joined the Northern Pacific Railway as a brakeman.
In 1971, his daughter Bridget was born right before Thanksgiving.
She weighed 7 lbs, 14 ounces.
Fortunately for her, the turkey was 9 lbs, 11 ounces.
Larry continued to work for the railroad, eventually retiring after 36 years of service.
He simply reached a point where there was nothing more he could learn about trains.
He knew everything.
Including the function of that doohickey that makes a “ssshhhhhh” sound on a locomotive, as well as the names of the engineers who were gullible enough to fall for it when he told them to pay up the twenty bucks they owed him.
Obviously, Larry was a man with principles.
He believed in education and insisted (at no small expense) that his kids go to Gonzaga Prep then onto college.
And he was always willing to help family (no matter how extended) through tough times.
He was also a sports fan.
He attended every softball game his daughter played from grade school all the way up to the University of Washington, he held season tickets to the Spokane Indians, and he would often lose sleep thinking about the sorry state of the Mariner bullpen.
All through his life, Larry continued to develop his appreciation for a well-crafted practical joke.
When his own dad passed away in Hutchinson, KS, Larry and brother Dale booked their rooms in the newest motel in the city.
When their sister Susan hit town after traveling all the way from her home in France, they told her their motel was booked up, so they had her at a different one.
They then drove her, haggard and jet-lagged, from the airport out to an old, abandoned fleabag at the edge of town.
Larry parked in the motel’s lot, got out of the car, and pulled her bag out of the trunk.
It was somewhere around then Susan lost it.
Both Larry and Dale were lucky to live through the incident.
Larry is survived by wife Katie McKay, son Patrick McKay (wife Nina), daughter Bridget McKay (partner Charles Burns), brothers Dale McKay (wife Kathe) and Bob Salkeld (wife Debbie) and, of course, his sister Susan Martin (husband David), several nieces and nephews and two beautiful granddaughters, Avery and Madeleine.
A small memorial service will be held for Larry at Lincoln Park Beach near his childhood home later in May.
To send condolences to the McKay family in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Hospice of Spokane or the Mariner’s pitching staff.
If Susan would like to attend the memorial, Larry wants her to know he’s already booked her a place to stay.
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