This eulogy was presented by Bruce Clayton ’89 on December 2nd, 2006:
Thank you all for coming today as we celebrate the life of Winnie MacKay. My name is Bruce Clayton and I am the President of the Phi Delta Theta Alumni Corporation. I have known Winnie for the past 21 years. While Winnie has had a major impact on my life, I am also speaking today on behalf of over 900 alumni and undergraduate members of Phi Delta Theta and countless friends whose lives she has touched.
Let me start by telling you a little about Winnie's life. Winnie was born on March 28, 1942 in Lyon's Falls, New York and she attended schools in West Lydon and Madison. At age 15, she started working at the Colgate Inn as the second cook. A year later, the head cook disappeared and Winnie was promoted to the position o f head cook at age 16. She later worked at the Beaches Restaurant as the saucier, the Braeloch Inn as the head chef, and a Jewish resort in the Catskills as the saucier. Her son, Tim, was born in October 1964 when Winnie was 22 years old. Five monthe later, on Feb 16, 1965, Winnie was hired to be the cook at Phi Delta Theta. Her position expanded over the years to become property manager and house mother for the fraternity. Winnie also worked part-time as a door monitor for various fraternity parties and later worked several evenings a week as a door checker at the Hourglass Bar.
Winnie's career at the fraternity spanned 41 years. During this time, she developed a special relationship with the brothers that extended far beyond the kitchen. College years were difficult times for many of us as we explored new relationships and became adults. Winnie was our trusted friend, mentor, advisor, second mother and babysitter for our years in college and beyond. We confided our secrets to her, she listened to our problems, and she gave us advice based on her experience as a mother. When we got out of line or needed a kick in the pants, she did not hesitate to speak up. She cared for us, fed us, teased us, and loved us as we journeyed from boyhood to manhood. After graduation, as we became husbands, fathers and even grandfathers, Winnie remained the constant in our fondness for the fraternity and what it stood for.
A few words that come to mind when I think of Winnie are:
Loyalty - Winnie demonstrated tremendous loyalty to the Phi Delta Theta organization by devoting nearly her entire adult life to serving the fraternity. We were all part of her family and she put her family above everything else.
Independence - Winnie was fiercely independent and strong willed. At times she was downright stubborn. She usually had a view on how things should be done. As students, we quickly learned that it was Winnie's way or the highway. But we knew she always had the best interests of the fraternity at heart.
Continuity - Winnie is a common link between generations of Phi Delta Theta brothers. The shared experience of life at a fraternity house under Winnie MacKay has brought us closer together as brothers and friends. The first thing that an alumnus does when he returns to the Colgate campus is to ask about Winnie and pay his respects to her.
Pride - Winnie had a lot of pride in her job and in the fraternity. It was important to her that the fraternity house was clean, that the brothers stayed out of trouble, and that we succeeded as a fraternity. She loved her job and it showed.
I first knew Winnie as an employee on her kitchen crew. I later became her supervisor when I became involved as an officer of our alumni corporation. Winnie was one of my best friends and a person that I greatly admired. We shared a passion for the fraternity house and what it represented. She was there for my graduation. I got married to my wife, Julie, in this very church some 13 years ago and Winnie let us use the Phi Delta Theta house for our wedding reception. Of course, Winnie was a guest of honor at the wedding and I even got her out for a few spins on the dance floor.
I visited Winnie last Saturday at the hospital in Utica. We had a nice visit and shared some memories about the fraternity. I read her some get well cards from my two daughters. Winnie and I always used to joke that her trips to the hospital were a vacation for her. This time, she told me it was going to be a short vacation and that she wanted to go home. So welcome home, Winnie, and rest in peace.
We all have our favorite memories and stories about Winnie. One of my fraternity brothers told me that as long as one is remembered, then one has reached a level of immortality. That is where Winnie will remain with all of us ... immortal.
Thank you, Winnie, for all you have done for me and for our fraternity.
Bruce Clayton '89
President, New York Zeta of Phi Delta Theta Corporation
Articles & Information
The following links include articles and information about Winnie Mackay. She was featured several times in The Zeta Record, which is the official newsletter of the New York Zeta chapter of Phi Delta Theta.
If you would like to make a memorial gift to the Phi Delta Theta Foundation on behalf of Winnie, you can do so by visiting www.phideltatheta.org or by sending a check payable to the Phi Delta Theta Foundation, 2 South Campus Avenue, Oxford, OH 45056.
If you are making on on-line donation, please remeber to check the box to allocate your gift to the New York Zeta Fund. If you are sending a check, please enclose a note stating that this is a memorial gift for the New York Zeta Fund in memory of Winnie MacKay.