Donald Miller MacKay
August 5, 1941 - September 10, 2023
It is with great sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of Donald Miller "Don" MacKay, a cherished resident of Atikokan. Don passed away peacefully surrounded by Liz and his daughters at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre on September 10, 2023
Don was highly regarded by many of his students and colleagues throughout his thirty years of teaching at the Atikokan High School. His passion for Geography and History was contagious and his enthusiasm for the Grade 12 Urban Study trips to Minneapolis was remembered by many. Don's legacy also includes pioneering the establishment of a computer lab at the school, a testament to his commitment to education. Don was known for always keeping his classroom doors open, welcoming students for conversations and educational support.
Although his eyesight prevented him from becoming a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Don found a way to serve as a Flying Officer in the Air Force Reserve during his university years. The beautiful love story of Donald and Liz began on the 25th of May when they fell head over heels for each other, embarking on a journey of love that led to their marriage just two months later. Together, they ventured to Tamale, Ghana, where they dedicated two years to teaching before settling in Atikokan. Over the course of their fifty-seven-year marriage, Don remained deeply committed to volunteer work, actively contributing to organizations such as Riverview United Church, Lion's Club, Food Bank, Library, Centennial Museum, and Atikokan Chamber of Commerce, among others. His thirst for adventure led Liz and Don to embark on "Hippie Road Trips" that took them backpacking across the globe. Don wholeheartedly immersed himself in local cultures, even starring in a Bollywood film in Mombasa for a day. Don's insatiable curiosity drove him to stay informed about world news, continually seeking to learn about diverse cultures and customs. He was never hesitant to strike up a conversation, particularly with those who had captivating stories to share, instilling in us the courage to care!
Don ignited a passion for travel, learning, and adventure in his daughters. He was unwavering in his determination to provide them with educational opportunities that fostered their independence and strength as women. A devoted enthusiast of his grandchildren's sports events and reading choices, Don found solace in his collections of model trains, stamps, books, movies, records, and CDs. His most cherished moments were those spent in the company of Liz and their dog Sasha, engrossed in books, music, and documentaries.
Don's last years were a testament to his zest for life. He relished precious moments at Warner Lake Camp, creating cherished memories with grandchildren and friends. Just last month, he embarked on a fishing trip and returned with a contented smile, declaring it a perfect day. Each morning, he and Liz would share three things they were grateful for, embracing the beauty and gratitude in the life they lived.
Donald is survived by his life partner and soulmate, Liz; his children Heather (Scott), Shaun (Kelly), and Keira (Rob), and his beloved grandchildren Brady, Katy, Lexi, Owen, Andrew, Peyton, and Parker. He is also remembered by his sister-in-law Rosamond Irwin, nephews George (Amie) and Alex, nieces Beth (Tawee) and Rachel (Phillip), as well as Anita, Kate, Jesse, and Theo. Don was preceded in death by his parents, Donald (Mac) and Margaret (Nancy) MacKay, his sister-in-law, Rebecca Crowe, and his brother-in-law, Gary Crowe.
Family and friends are invited to join in a celebration of the life of Don on Saturday, September 16th, 2023, at 1:00 PM at Atikokan Riverview United Church, with a light luncheon to follow.
For those wishing to express condolences, donations can be made to Riverview United Church, Atikokan Lion’s Club, Atikokan Food Bank, Atikokan Public Library, or the Retired Teachers of Ontario Bursary in memory of Donald MacKay.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Westfort Chapel, 420 West Gore Street, Thunder Bay.