Joyce Marie (Irish McKay) Emery, 87, died at her home in Fairfield Glade Aug. 5.
She was the quintessential glass-half-full person. Her laughter, good nature, optimism, friendliness and generosity were legendary and inspired all who knew her.
Joyce, the youngest child of Damon Lou (L.D.) and Alice Virginia (Reid) Irish, was born near Saginaw, MI, May 14, 1929, and raised on a farm outside Hemlock, MI. Although never much taller than she was in later years, she played basketball for the Hemlock High School girls team and was also a high school cheerleader.
Her closest friend for 75 years, Irene Pritchett, introduced Joyce to her cousin Don McKay from Saginaw. Don and Joyce were married in 1950 and raised eight children in a number of Michigan communities, finally settling in Bangor. After Don's death in 1971. Joyce worked in the administrative offices of Palisades Power Plant near South Haven, MI, where her skills at having managed a household of ten for many years proved invaluable.
In 1977, Joyce married John Emery, a widower who also had eight children. They were married for 32 years. In 1991 they moved from Galesburg, MI, to Fairfield Glade and enjoyed a very active retirement.
Joyce loved to read, play cards, dance and sing; she played the organ and piano by ear and could harmonize with any tune she heard. She was deeply adventurous-ready and willing to ride a hot air balloon, jet-ski, kayak or whitewater raft. She enjoyed traveling, from car trips around Michigan when her family was young, to international trips to Lourdes, Thailand and Ireland in later years. She relished her visits to the homes of her children and grandchildren from Maine to California, Michigan to Alaska. Wherever she went, both her family and newly made friends were sorry to see her leave, always looking forward to the next visit.
She taught her children to love music, to value honesty, courtesy and compassion, and to deal with adversity gracefully. Joyce was a devout Catholic, involved in church groups and activities her whole life. She engaged in service and acts of kindness to family members, her many friends, and strangers. She and John Emery were recognized for their significant volunteer efforts by the Diabetes Association in Michigan.
Joyce was preceded in death by her parents, by her sisters, Alice Adele LaClair, Sr. Mary Robert Irish, R.S.M., and Faith Savage, and brother, Aarol W. (Bud) Irish; by Donald J. McKay Sr., her first husband and the father of her eight children; and by their daughter, Mary McKay Alexander, and son, David McKay. Also, predeceasing Joyce was her second husband, John Emery.
Joyce is survived by six of her children: John McKay (Cristy), Anchorage, AK; Kathy McKay (Jonathan), Benton, ME; Ann McKay Bryson (George), Anchorage, AK; Beth McKay (Rob, dec.), Anchorage, AK; Scott McKay (Shelly), El Cajon, CA; and Doug McKay (Margo), North Hills, CA; as well as her son-in-law, Bob Alexander; sister-in-law, Elaine Irish; and brother-in-law, Frank Francetic.
Joyce is survived as well by her many beloved nieces and nephews, 31 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
In accordance with her wishes, Joyces remains were cremated. A funeral mass will be held Monday, Aug. 15, at 1 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Fairfield Glade, TN, immediately followed by a reception celebrating her life in the church social hall. A memorial service will be held next summer at St. Marys Catholic Cemetery in Hemlock, MI.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that those who wish to make a memorial donation consider Fairfield Glade Way to Go (http://www.fgrservices.org/Transportation.aspx), the Fairfield Glade Fire Department (http://www.fairfieldfire.org), Facing Foster Care in AK (http://www.ffcalaska.org), the American Diabetes Association, or that they perform an extra act of kindness for someone, in memory of Joyce McKay Emery.
Published on  August 11, 2016