Alexander "Sandy" Gordon McKay
Were we to devote all four days and 68 paper sessions to memories of the person, the contribution, and the dear personality of Sandy McKay, we could not exhaust the reservoir of expertise, wisdom and kindness that characterized one of this association’s most accomplished and beloved members. Alexander Gordon McKay was born on Christmas Eve in 1924 in Toronto. His grandfather was Chancellor of McMaster University on Hamilton, Ontario. Sandy attended Upper Canada College then Trinity College at the University of Toronto as a Duke of Wellington Scholar, where he graduated with honors in Classics. He decamped to Yale as a Kellogg Fellow where he received an M.A., thence to Princeton as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, receiving the A.M. and Ph.D. After stints at Wells College, The University of Pennsylvania, Mount Allison, Waterloo, Western, and Manitoba, he joined the faculty at McMaster in 1957, where he served for 33 years as chairman of the department from 1962 to 1968 and again in 1976 to 1979, and Dean of the Humanities from 1968 to 1973. He was President of CAMWS in 1972-3, his elegant and crisp Latin style graced the ovationes for over ten years, and he received a CAMWS ovatio himself in 1978. He was resident of the Classical Association of Canada in 1978-80, The Vergilian Society of America in 1973-4, and in 1988 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. His early interest in Aeschylus was soon displaced by devotion to Virgil, resulting in over 15 books, more than 80 articles and over 100 book reviews, but he will be especially remembered as the indefatigable annual bibliographer of Virgil, whose lists in Vergilius regularly ran into the hundreds of items. He also served the Virgilian Society as a guide on numerous tours for nearly fifty years, drawing devoted members to the Society. He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and received honorary degrees Manitoba, Brock, Queens, and McMaster. He continued to teach even after his retirement in 1990 and in 1992 he was honored with a Festschrift that focused on his beloved Virgil, his constant companion until Sandy’s much grieved passage across the Styx on August 31, 2007.
Manibus date lilia plenis,
purpureos spargam flores animamque nepotis
his saltem accumulem donis et fungar inani
— Ward Briggs