JESSIE LEONE STANFORD MCKAY
A Long Celebrated Life Well-lived
Jessie passed away in her daughters loving arms on Tuesday, April 19, 2022. She was predeceased by her husband William (Bill) Eaton McKay, her parents Jesse Lawrence and Edna May Smith Stanford and her five siblings Lucille Emily Gates, Chester (Bud), Elizabeth Eileen, Edna Grace, and Don Merle, along with many dear nieces and nephews.
Jessie is survived by her daughter Kathryn Golden, grandson David Golden, and his wife Elizabeth, great grandchildren Thomas Gary, Patricia Aryiroula and James William. She has too many loving nieces and nephews to name who will miss their dear beloved Aunt Jessie.
Jessie was born at home in Stavely, Alberta on March 10, 1927 and started her amazing life adventure moving from the Stavely area to their new farm in Hartley, Alberta nestled along the Waterton River which provided many special moments growing up.
She attended primary school in Hartley and Glenwood, then graduated from Cardston High School in 1946. The following year Jessie worked in Lethbridge as a dental assistant and in 1948 she graduated from Garbutt Business College. She finally found her calling and in 1952 she graduated from Holy Cross School of Nursing. She also earned her degree in Hospital Organization and Management by the Canadian Hospital Association in cooperation with the University of Manitoba.
Her nursing career began at the Cardston Hospital where she delivered hundreds of babies including many from the local Hutterite Colonies and several of her nieces and nephews. She also had the opportunity to spend the summers in Waterton as Resident Nurse at the Prince of Wales Hotel and was the only medical practitioner in the area to handle emergencies. This was a real challenge and learning experience but gave her the wonderful opportunity to be near her parents who were managing the general store and cabins at Cameron Lake.
Jessie proved to be such a motivated and capable nurse that she was soon asked to be the administrator of the Cardston Hospital at the young age of 27. Here she continued to prove her innovative and forward thinking for improving the healthcare of those around her. During this time of being in charge of her home town hospital she not only designed a “Bluebird Program” to encourage young people to enroll in Nursing and test their aptitude for nursing skills but she also oversaw the planning of and construction of a beautiful new sixty-bed hospital that opened
Ready for a change after 5 years in this challenging position, she felt the desire to travel and spread her wings in nursing and headed south to Apache Junction, Arizona and also beautiful Woodland Hills, California. Following that, Jessie was hired in 1960 as the Alberta Hospital Association Educational Director and moved to Edmonton, Alberta. During her tenure with AHA she had the opportunity to visit every hospital in the province providing consulting services. As Educational Director she developed many programs for doctors, hospitals, and administrators. Some examples are accreditation accommodation workshops for extended care facilities, workshops on hospital design and construction, and workshops on the process of negotiation,
While in Edmonton, Jessie often visited the Al Oeming Game Farm. It was here on a beautiful spring day she met her future husband Bill McKay and a wonderful romance began. They were married exactly one year later on May 28, 1966 and began their exciting times together with Bill as Director of the Calgary Zoo living on St. George’s Island, while she continued to work with AHA. However her address now became “The Zoo”. These were never to be forgotten times and how she loved to share them with her family and friends. When Bill retired in 1974 from the zoo, they returned to the family ranch in Leavitt, Alberta. Here they spent many happy years raising cattle, peacocks, swans and geese while Jessie continued to work from home as AHA Educational Director until she first retired in 1982.
Called out of retirement in 1984, she accepted the temporary position of administrator of the new Blood Tribe Community Health Centre in Standoff and then returned once again as administrator to Cardston Municipal Hospital. She “officially” retired in 1990 after 42 years in the health care field.
After Bill’s passing in 1993 her daughter Kathie and young grandson David continued to care for the ranch for the the next 10 years. In 2002, they felt it was time to make a change and moved into Cardston where she enjoyed attending the temple, gardening, and keeping in touch with her family. She passed away in her home at Cardston on April 19, 2022 after celebrating her 95 birthday. She was healthy and happy until the end.
Jessie had a strong testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and was proud to say that she was a ‘Mormon’ and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She loved serving in the Relief Society as a counsellor, teaching in Primary especially in the Nursery with Bill, and serving in the Cardston temple.
Very adventuresome and very capable Jessie Leone Stanford McKay was well known for being kind, loving, helpful and understanding. She spent her life cheerfully blessing the lives of all those she came in contact with. She shall be greatly missed but always remembered with a smile.
Friends may meet the family at the church from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. prior to the service.
The Funeral Service will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,Temple Street Chapel, Cardston, AB., on Monday, April 25th, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. Interment to follow in the Cardston Cemetery.