John "Pete" McKay

  • Died: December 29, 2020
  • Location: Concord, Massachusetts

Concord Funeral Home

Director - Glenn D. Burlamachi, CFSP
74 Belknap St.
Concord, MA 01742
Tel. (978) 369-3388

Tribute & Message From The Family

Message From The Family

Thank you for your support during this difficult time. Please enhance this tribute to John by adding your memories and photos.

John "Pete" McKay

John McKay, Pete to those who knew him, passed away peacefully on December 29, 2020 at the age of 93 from complications due to COVID-19.

Pete was born on a dairy farm in Caledonia, NY in 1927 to parents Loretta and John McKay. As the oldest of 6 boys (Loren "Luke", Jerry "Jake", Tom, Donald, David), Pete's childhood was a combination of farm work and crazy antics with his brothers.

After a semester of college in 1944, Pete decided to join the war effort. Too young to enlist in the armed services, he instead joined the Merchant Marine. His stories of traveling the world in that period, including his description of meeting Eva Peron, kept friends and family entertained.

Upon returning home, he answered an ad in the paper and took to the road selling magazines door-to-door – a source of many more stories, including meeting Hardie Gramatky, author of Little Toot, which he had memorized while reading to his youngest brother.

In San Francisco, while leading a team of magazine salespeople, he was drafted "from a barstool at the top of the Mark" into the Army to serve in the Korean War. Serving in Alaska, he became the unofficial leader of troop morale, publishing a regular newsletter and entertaining and educating the troops.

Back from the Army, he continued his career in sales as a rep for BernzOmatic blow torches. He loved to tell stories about using a torch to make Baked Alaska in front of an audience of professional chefs (possibly the first use of a kitchen torch) and to light Liberace's famous candelabra.

In the mid-1950s his sales career took him to Indianapolis, where he ran with the crowd at the Antelope Club and took flying lessons from Roscoe Turner Aviation.

He met the love of his life, Paula Sierp, on the day before the 41st running of the Indianapolis 500 in 1957. On their first "date" Pete made dinner for Paula and her friends; anyone who sampled Pete's cooking will understand why she was hooked from then on. They were married in December of that year in Paula's hometown of Seymour, IN.

His love of cooking continued throughout his lifetime. Many friends and family enjoyed his spaghetti with Italian sausage. Pete baked his "Insomnia Bread" whenever he couldn't sleep and loved sharing it – including with the DJ from Chicago whose music kept him company in the wee hours as he baked.

In 1963, Pete and Paula moved to the country, buying the farm in Waverly, IN. The farm was home to various animals over the years, including horses, ponies, chickens, goats, dogs, cats and sheep, most notably Rambo, who terrorized anyone who came within range. In 1969, Pete and Paula welcomed their only child, daughter Alida, who loved being Daddy's helper on the farm and in the kitchen.

The highlight of Pete's sales career was his time at Williams, Beck and Hess in the 1980s and 90s where Harry Beals made the most of Pete's creativity and spunk. As part of his marketing efforts, Pete became President of the Petroleum Club of Indianapolis where he championed new regulations to improve safety and environmental protection in and around oil and gas facilities.

Pete loved tending his garden, growing and putting up vegetables, and became a Master Gardener in retirement. Pete and Paula were blessed with many kind and wonderful neighbors over the years, including the Hodges, Knoxes, Wallmans, Suttons, and Smiths, whose tireless help enabled them to remain in their home as long as they did.

Pete and Paula appreciated classical music together, with frequent trips to the Indianapolis Symphony. They were long-time supporters of the Fine Arts Society of Indianapolis, where Pete volunteered.

Pete loved to fish and made several trips with friends to Canada over the years in addition to casting his line in local ponds across Indiana.

Pete and Paula also enjoyed traveling, and visiting with friends and extended family including Paula's Siefker and Sierp cousins. Highlights included: a retirement cruise in Alaska; joining daughter Alida and her in-laws for their grandson's first Christmas in Switzerland; and train trips to the Canadian Rockies and the American Southwest. Pete never knew a stranger and made friends on each of these adventures.

After retirement, he made daily outings that often included seeing friends at the Eagles Club of Mooresville, the American Legion post in Martinsville, the Waverly library and McDonald's.

In his final years, he and Paula spent a year back in Caledonia, NY, across the street from his brother Don, where they enjoyed visiting with nieces, nephews and extended family. In fall 2019, they moved to assisted living in Concord, MA to be near his daughter and her family with whom they enjoyed weekly Sunday dinners until the pandemic.

Pete is survived by wife of 63 years, Paula (Sierp) McKay, daughter Alida, son-in-law Patrick, and grandson A.J. Zweidler-McKay, brothers Don and Dave McKay, sisters-in-law Helga and Lucile McKay, and several nieces and nephews (Andrew, Kate, Rebecca, John, Tracy, Tom, Andre, Bridget, Petra).

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Indy Honor Flight

Condolence & Memory Journal

Though this is much belated, I want to express my condolences. Pete was a good friend if my dad's, and I remember countless good times as a kid spent with my "Uncle Pete". He was a good man.

Posted by Mike Stewart - Indianapolis, IN - Family Friend   August 29, 2021


Sending our deepest sympathy to cousin Paula June, together with daughter, Alida, and her family upon the occasion of Pete's passing. I will always remember how much he enjoyed referring to cousin Judy and me as--"Yackie Sue and Yudy,"--which was the German pronunciation of our names which was used by our Grandpa John Siefker. Pete and Paula June's hospitality was enjoyed by many family and friends over the years, which was always enhanced by Pete culinary skills and Paula June's beautiful table arrangements. Pete's stories always kept everyone entertained and usually resulted in smiles and lots of laughter. Not mentioned in the obituary was an additional survivor, Timmy, who was Pete's feline companion who brought much joy to his life. I'm sure that Timmy will miss his "buddy." May the good Lord bless and comfort the McKay family.

Posted by Jackie Sue (Siefker) and Steve Harrell - Indianapolis, IN, IN - Family   January 25, 2021

Paula, my husband, Roger Pardieck, and I send our condolences to you upon the death of your husband, Pete. His obituary surely reflected a life well-lived. Although you may not remember me, my maiden name is Mary Ann Meyer and I was a student of yours in second grade at Clara D. Carter School in, I believe, 1951. Your were a wonderful teacher, giving all your students an excellent start in their elementary school careers.

Posted by Mary Ann Pardieck - Columbus, IN - Friend   January 13, 2021

Pete and Paula became friends when "Mrs. McKay" was our son David's remedial reading teacher. We enjoyed having them attend our family's Christmas Open Houses for several years. Pete was a delightful man who always added joy to the party. When we look at the pictures of Pete smiling - that's Pete- that is the way we always remember him. We are so saddened by his passing, but will remember the happy times we shared.
Nelson, Nancy and David Hoggatt

Posted by Nancy Hoggatt - Mooresville, IN - Friend   January 13, 2021

Pete lived a crossed from us in Waverley for 30 years and enjoyed having the McKay's as neighbors. Loved Pete's stories of his life. He showed me how he made home made bread one day after inviting me over to see how it was done. He made bread at night when he could not sleep he told me. Great idea! My daughters took piano lessons from Paula. They took the kids to the zoo one time & bought them a stuffed toy. Invited us to their home at Christmas for a party. We miss themboth in Waverly

Posted by Chris Sutton - Martinsvillr, IN - Neighbor   January 12, 2021


Our sincere sympathy to my dear cousin Paula and to Alida and her family. Pete always seemed to enjoy life to the fullest. He always had a joke and a smile to share. He was a big part of our family and loved everyone. He will be missed.
Judy Siefker Pallatin and family

Posted by Judy Pallatin - Indianapolis, IN - Family   January 12, 2021

Our long time neighbor of over 50 years in Waverly, condolences to Paula, Alida and extended family.

Posted by Susan Hodges DeNuccio    January 10, 2021

Family Album

Pete & Paula Wedding 1957
Pete & Paula Wedding 1957
Pete's professional photo
Pete in the Army, Alaska, 1950-52
Pete took this picture at a zoo in the 1980s. He applied for a copyright for it. Title, "Show-Off"

Family Album

Pete & his brothers... Left to right: Don, Pete, Luke, Jake & Dave (youngest), Tom
Pete with Paula's Aunt Gert Siefker on her birthday
Paula & Pete with grandson A.J., 2005
Pete loved model trains. Here he is at the display at the Indiana State Museum one Christmas.
Pete with A.J. at Legal Seafood, where we went out for lobster dinner. Pete got about halfway through, before declaring it "a young man's battle" and handing over the rest to A.J., who didn't mind at all.
Pete, Paula, Alida & A.J., around 2014???

Family Album

Pete with his beloved Timmy Cat. This was "Timmy 2." Both cats were his buddies over the years. He loved playing with them and having them join him for naps.
As far as we know, this is the only selfie Pete ever took, we suspect by accident, on Alida's phone, while dear friend Alice Pollert looked on.
In 2018 Pete was invited to participate in an Honor Flight for veterans to Washington, D.C. Alida got to accompany him. We made many great memories that day, and were so appreciative of the volunteers who put so much heart and energy into making it happen.
At the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. on the Indy Honor Flight.
One of the highlights of their year in Caledonia (2018) was seeing family. We had Thanksgiving dinner with Pete's sister-in-law Cile and her daughter Tracy and son-in-law Mike. At Christmas, we got to visit with Pete's brother Don McKay and his family. L to R, seated: Pete's wife Paula, niece Becky, Pete; standing: daughter Alida, brother Don, nephew Andrew, niece Kate, son-in-law Patrick and grandson A.J.
Pete with daughter Alida, around 2015

Family Album

Recovering side-by-side after Paula broke her femur in 2016.
Site-seeing in South Dakota at a reunion of Pete's Army company.
Pete being silly during Christmas in Switzerland with son-in-law Patrick's family. Also pictured, Patrick's father Fredy Zweidler.
Pete & Paula's wedding. Here with Paula's Mom, Angeline Brethauer.
At the memorial service for Pete's sister-in-law, Betty McKay. As is tradition, Pete is wearing a McKay tartan tie.
Pete & Paula's wedding, here with Pete's parents John and Loretta McKay.

Family Album

On the Indy Honor Flight back home, reading the many cards and letters that were distributed to each of the veterans, thanking them for their service.
During the Indy Honor Flight trip, at Arlington National Cemetery.
On the Indy Honor Flight, at the Washington Monument.
On the Indy Honor Flight at the Lincoln Memorial.
Pete with Paula's cousins Don and Bob Siefker, at their mother, Gertrude Siefker's, birthday party.
Family photo. From L to R, standing (brothers & spouses): Pete, Paula, Loren (Luke), Jerry (Jake), Tom, Cile (Tom's wife), Dave, Don Seated: Pete's parents Loretta & John, and his Aunt Kate.

Family Album

Isn't he handsome in uniform?
Pete's Merchant Marine class... He's second from the left on the bottom row.
Young Pete - maybe high school?
Pete at Indy Honor Flight ready for group photo.

Community Photos

Pete with daughter Alida