Alexander Glenn McKay, a longtime Eatons Neck resident, English teacher, author, photographer and environmentalist described by his children as a devoted family man, died Aug. 18 of natural causes. He was 83.
McKay retired in 1993 as the chairman and coordinator of J. Taylor Finley Junior High School in the Huntington school district, where he began working as an English teacher in 1964. Before that he worked in the Bethpage public school system. His children said the only thing more dear to him than his students and the environment was his family.
“He was a great father,” said his son David McKay, of Alpharetta, Georgia, who reminisced about summers spent upstate in the Adirondacks. “We were always outside hiking, fishing; you name it, we were doing it. It was important to him, and dad always made sure we enjoyed it, those memories of always being out in nature and enjoying what nature and the earth has to offer.”
McKay was born June 5, 1934, in Richmond Hill, Queens, where he was raised. After high school he earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Queens College and a master’s degree in English from LIU’s C.W. Post campus. From 1956 to 1959 he served in the U.S. Coast Guard.
In 1956, McKay married the former Ruth J. Rudiger. The couple lived in Puerto Rico, where he was stationed with the Coast Guard, then in South Huntington. They settled in Eatons Neck, where they built a home in 1962, and had three children. She died in October 2016.
McKay was an avid environmentalist, his son said, noting that his father’s master’s thesis was on essayist Henry David Thoreau and that it likely instilled in him “the wonders of nature.” From 1976 until his death, McKay served on the board of trustees of the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation.
His work, articles and photography on environmental and natural history were featured in Newsday and the magazines Adirondack Life, Wetlands and Long Island Naturalist.
“He was just a good man with a kind heart and good soul,” his son said. “He was so dedicated to public service serving on the town planning board, teaching environmental courses, and he never asked for anything in return.”
McKay is also survived by a daughter, Laura Ward, of Rutherford, New Jersey, and another son, Don McKay, of Dix Hills, who is director of parks and recreation for the Town of Huntington; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
A celebration of his life will be held Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Crab Meadow Golf Course in Northport.