Recommend J.R. "Mack"'s obituary to your friends
J.R. "Mack" McMenemy

Obituary of J.R. "Mack" McMenemy

Please share a memory of J.R. "Mack" to include in a keepsake book for family and friends.
J. R. “MACK” McMENEMY Lake Major, N.S. With sadness we share the news that Mack, at age 81, passed away on Saturday, August 5th, 2023. He will be missed by son, Seán (Jennifer), and daughter, Erin, grandchildren Michael (Nicole), Lateisha, Matthew (Destiny) and Allison (Ben), and great grandchildren Jaxson, Lennox and Jasper. Our father was a planner, and he had prepared his own obituary. We share it with you with only minor edits. I was born in Halifax, NS in October 1941, the product of a marriage that was consummated before the wedding occurred. That was a common occurrence during the World War 2 years. My early childhood was spent with my grandparents, Reg and Hazel Dixon, in Sydney, NS. They lived at 25 Charlotte St., which was the location of the old colonial gaol many years before they moved there. I went to Central School and played in the area between George Street and the waterfront. Also living with my grandparents was my adopted uncle, Joe Lilac, who during my sixteenth year took me on a fantastic trip along the length of Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles in his new Packard, which he let me drive part of the way! When I was about 8, I reunited with my parents and moved to Moncton, NB (actually, Riverview, across the river and in a new subdivision carved from Dobson’s farm). I attended the Cloverdale multi-grade two-room country school until a more modern one was built in Riverview. After a few years there we moved to Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto, and into a newly constructed house. I met my paternal grandparents John and Fern McMenemy for the first time that I remember and was very much taken with them. I have some good memories from our time there but also remember being a latchkey kid without a key who, in the winter, had to wait in a cold garage for parents to arrive to be let in after school. We next moved to Stratford, ON and had to stay in a hotel until the purchase of a house was finalised. That was interesting for an early teen. No chores! We moved into our house, and I discovered new activities such as tin-can cricket, hockey and cadets (mandatory at high school for boys, as I recall). Also, the Stratford Festival was just beginning and each season a giant tent was raised to cover the actors and the audience for the Shakespearean plays. A feature of this time was that the actors were all billeted in homes throughout the city. An actor by the name of James Mason was billeted with us and was very amused when I reported an angry row occurring in his “suite”. It turned our he had been rehearsing his lines with an actress. As a result of this error, he took me to several rehearsals in the tent and gave me tickets to see some plays thus engendering a life-long appreciation of Shakespeare’s works. 1956 found us in Halifax, after leaving Stratford, returning to Toronto then moving to the Crown and Anchor Inn on South Park Street before taking up residence on Spring Garden Road. I was tutored in Latin, delivered prescriptions for Balcom and Chittick Drug Store and explored Halifax until we moved to Dartmouth after a year. I went to Greenvale School when it was a high school and then to Dartmouth High School at its current location. I was a terrible student who played hooky and eventually dropped out to go to work. On September 13, 1957, I met a girl named Mabel Shiers at a Darteen Dance held in the now-demolished Prince Arthur Junior High School. She was to play an important role in my life. About this time, I left home and did odd jobs one of which took me past Acadia University as I hitch-hiked down to Aylesford one summer. On a whim I visited the campus, saw a man walking in the “quad” and asked about “getting into” Acadia. He sent me to the registrar who was very helpful, and I went away with a list of items required for admittance to the university. To make a long story short I applied and was accepted! It cost me $989 for tuition, room and board! I was good for the winter. Acadia University was a revelation to me. Unlike high school, nobody minded if I challenged what they said but, I had to be able to back up my position. I loved it! I took courses that interested me and didn’t do badly. I decided to see if I could muster the money to return. I had money the first year because I was saving to buy a car. Financially, the second year was going to be challenging but I worked construction that summer and took every extra shift I could get. I had just enough but I would have no spending money. When classes started, I managed to get a job in the cafeteria clearing trays and stacking dishes. That got me through the year, and I was able to get extra snacks from the leftover dining room food. Some of the Acadia students, me included, used to raid the apple orchards in the fall and take a few apples for snacks. That would probably land us in jail now! I worked on the Coast Guard vessel Edward Cornwallis for the next two summers. It was a real-life education and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to not go back to Acadia. My mind was changed when my shipmate, Weldon Blank, and I were in the hold of the ship loading 50-pound bags of coal and he asked why I hadn’t left the ship. When I said that I planned to stay he said, “I have a Grade 8 education. I have to do this kind of labour. If you get an education, you can return to this, but you won’t HAVE to.” Later that day I signed off the ship and went back to Acadia. A few years later I discovered that I was teaching his two nieces! I told them to blame their uncle for being stuck with me. My last year at Acadia had me scrambling for a major because up until then I had just been taking courses that interested me. Also, I had become involved in the theatre scene, as a result of having taken a Prof. Jack Sheriff English course. It was supposed to be an easy credit but wasn’t. Anyway, it worked out and before classes ended, I proposed to my high school sweetheart, and she accepted. We planned to marry in the fall after spring graduation. That summer I worked as an assistant lighthouse keeper on Sambro Island. It was solitary work, but I had some very interesting experiences while I was there. As an aside, the light just inside the Maritime Museum is from Sambro Island. It floated in a circular channel of mercury to reduce friction as it revolved. On September 04, 1965, Mabel and I began our married journey together. Speculation at the time was that a little one was on the way. A little boy, Seán, did arrive… 8 years later followed years later by a little girl, Erin. We had the usual challenges of newlyweds adapting to each other’s idiosyncrasies, but we made it through because of Mabel’s calm spirit. Money was scarce so our apartment furniture and appliances were second-hand until we could afford better. To save for a house, our entertainment was visits with friends, dinner and house parties, and fondues along with the occasional dance and restaurant meal. Life was good! During our first year of marriage, I attended Education classes and got a job as a teacher starting in the fall of 1966. That would become my main life’s work, but I also worked as a taxi driver as well as a décor accessories business owner, bookkeeper and installer to help make ends meet. Teaching was both challenging and satisfying because of the kids, who were mostly a joy to be around and watch them mature educationally and socially. The years passed then life got better and more challenging with the arrival of son, Seán, and daughter, Erin. All those years of wondering why parents couldn’t control their kids were laid to rest as we were tested time and time again. We discovered that our kids didn’t seem to fit any mould discussed in the parenting books and nobody’s kids were causing their parents exactly the same concerns as ours were. However, we all survived and still had a decent relationship with each other. In our later years, our son has helped us maintain our house and our daughter was our IT person. We moved into our “starter” home about 6 months after Seán was born. It had been built over a few years as we had the money but with a baby on the way Mabel wanted it completed immediately. We took out a small mortgage (at 19%), finished the house and paid off the mortgage in 5 years. Mabel planned to work for a year or two then become a homemaker. However, we had good child caregivers, so she continued working until retiring in 1997! A new home is a financial drain, so we continued being selective as to what we spent our entertainment money on. One evening, I encountered some guys pumping water from a lake and shooting it back into the lake. They turned out to be paid and volunteer firefighters from the area. They invited me to attend a training session, which I did, and I ended up volunteering. We had training every Tuesday evening and it was fun. I learned a lot, including that I should not be put in charge of anything mechanical. Grunt work was my speciality. Rolling out and hooking up the hoses, assisting on the hose and, occasionally, controlling the nozzle. This was a great group of guys who argued and teased each other constantly until they were called to action then they were all business. Eventually, we formed the Westphal Cole Harbour Volunteer Firefighters Association, and I was elected its first president. After a time, I was forced to leave the firefighters when I was elected to the local Service Commission which was responsible for several services including the Fire Department. That put me in a conflict-of-interest position and the firefighters encouraged me to help them get better equipment and training by speaking on their behalf, so I resigned and was awarded a Life Membership by the Association. (This was the year that Scotia Stadium was being built under the Service Commission Chairmanship of Alfie Giles. Scotia Stadium was the planned first step of what was to become Cole Harbour Place.) Eventually, I became Chairperson of the Service Commission for several years before losing an election. Professionally, I was proud to be active with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union early in my teaching career. Later in my teaching career I coached and judged cheerleading for over a decade, helping to begin the Metro Cheerleading Judges Association in 1991. I worked with NSSAF to help restore competitive cheerleading in Nova Scotia Junior and Senior High Schools in 1992 and then retired from cheerleading activities in 1995. In my community I was president of the Lake Major Residents and Property-owners Association, an active member of the committee that created tie first Community Development Plan in Halifax County for the Preston and Cherry Brook areas, an officer of the Watershed Association Development Enterprise (WADE) and Chairman of the Lake Major Watershed Advisory Board. Also, I was also a soccer referee from 1985 until 2002, stopping only because of cancer. I enjoyed skiing, swimming, and motorcycle riding. I was a long-time motorcycle rider and in 2000 I bought a Gold Wing at Mabel’s insistence. Together, with Mabel on the back, we traveled through 48 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces. We joined the Gold Wing Road Riders Association and became Leadership Training Instructors giving seminars both in Canada and the U.S. A few months after my election loss for the Service Commission, I decided to run for the County School Board and won by a landslide 10 votes! Being an “elected official” was an eye-opener for me. No matter where you were, who you were with or the time-of-day people felt that you should be available to them. Most of the time I enjoyed the work and the ability to help solve problems or improve situations but sometimes people were just abusive and often misinformed. It became necessary for me to resign when Mabel had a difficult delivery of Erin and had to convalesce for several months. Even with the help of her mom, she needed to have me available if only to answer the constantly ringing phones. (I need to insert here that early in our marriage Mabel had a serious operation and I was afraid that she wouldn’t survive. She had needed several blood transfusions. It was shortly after then that I began donating blood and plasma and continued to do so until 2003 when I had a cancer operation and was rejected as a donor. By then I had made over 350 donations in Canada and 50 in the United States. I believe that this is a gift that people can give that doesn’t cost a cent and only takes up a bit of time.) After I retired from teaching and Mabel retired from the Federal Fisheries Department we wintered in Florida and took up motorcycling. We joined the GWRRA motorcycle organization and learned how to ride safely and have fun. On our own at first then with friends from Michigan we travelled to 48 states and 10 Canadian provinces and a little bit in Mexico. We had some harrowing experiences, but we had many, many more joyous ones. We discovered places that we had never heard of before because we talked with bikers who loved to tell us of the neat places they had come across. In 2003, I was operated on for colon cancer then developed an infection in the hospital that attacked all my major organs. After several scares, which Mabel dealt with while I was drifted in and out of delirium, everything returned to normal except for my kidneys. I was advised to go on dialysis and refused. I didn’t want to be attached to a machine. Luckily, I survived, which allowed us to continue having those wonderful motorcycle adventures until 2018. Early in 2018 I was having some breathing problems which continued through to the spring when we got home from wintering in Florida. I refused to go to the doctor at first then let Mabel take me to the local emergency clinic where it was decided that I had had a heart attack and, eventually, was informed that I needed triple bypass heart surgery. I agreed to the surgery, but the surgeon wouldn’t operate unless I was being dialysed. I protested but my family and friends convinced me to change my mind. I began dialysis, the heart operation was done, and the final phase of my life began. I hated dialysis (not the nurses and technicians; they were mostly great) and decided to reduce my sessions from three per week to two per week and then to one per week. That reduced my stress level, but I still missed being able to shower and swim because of the tubes attached to me. Thank goodness I could still ride our motorcycle, on which Mabel and I found so much joy, when we took our infrequent tours around Nova Scotia. Looking back, I had some early life challenges, but my life took a positive turn when I met my five-foot life partner, Mabel. She may not have been perfect, but she was perfect for me. That union led to us having two kids, Seán and Erin, who are kind and caring people of whom we are proud. I enjoyed my teaching career from the ‘60s and ‘70s, when class sizes were at times in the high 40s, through to the ‘90s when some classes were only in the high teens and low 20s. Most kids were a pleasure to work with and responded well when treated fairly and respectfully. That made going to school easy for me! The brick house we built as a “starter house” ended up being our only house together. It is the only home our kids have ever known. We have loved, grieved, rejoiced, argued, hugged, kissed, raised Seán and Erin, and lived through COVID-19 in this house. It has been kind to us providing us with a safe haven over the years right up until Mabel passed and I took my last breath on August 5th, 2023 in Dartmouth, NS. I think my life has been guided by four mottos or principals. Early childhood’s motto was “Be loved and love back.” The motto for late childhood to late teens was “Stay out of sight and out of mind.” From my 20s through to my retirement I was guided by the adage, “It is easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission.” My last years were guided by the Latin phrase, “Illegitimi Non Carborundum.” In conclusion, I would like to say, “I did it my way” but that would be untrue. Mostly, I believe that I ended up doing it Mabel’s way (and that was usually the better choice.) She was taken from me suddenly on June 14, 2021, 63 years and 9 months after we first met. I cried over my loss whenever I was alone and thought of her. I really believe that I got the best of the deal when we united. I still say to her, “I love you, Babe.” (Even at our ages, you are still a “babe” to me!) Seán and Erin, thank you for your support during my final years. I hope that I let you know how grateful I am for you putting up with me during the ups and downs I experienced after Mom died. Your help was a key factor in allowing me to remain somewhat independent. I said goodbye to my little dog, Harlee, in April. His loyalty and companionship was extremely helpful with me maintaining my mental health after Mabel died. Agencies that I have financially supported continuously for over 30 years are Alice Housing, Bryony House, Canadian Cancer Society, Halifax Sexual Health Care Centre and Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia. If you are so inclined, I am sure they would welcome your support. Mabel and I have also given intermittent support to the V.O.N., Red Cross, Food Banks, Souls Harbour Rescue Mission and her church, St. John’s on Main St. in Westphal. In fact, just about any charity needs your help. There will be a drop-in celebration of life held for both of our parents, Mabel (who passed away in 2021 while Covid protocols were still in place) & Mack McMenemy on Saturday 19-August-2023 from 1-3pm at St. John’s Anglican Church Hall at 1215 Main Street, Dartmouth, NS (corner NS Trunk Hwy #7 & Lake Major Road). Condolences can also be sent to P.O. Box 26 Dartmouth, NS B2Y 3Y2. At his request, his remains have been cremated. Please do not send flowers. A donation to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia, a food bank or a charity of your choice in his name would be a suitable alternative.

Celebration of Life - Mack & Mabel

1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Saturday, August 19, 2023
St. John’s Anglican Church Hall
1215 Main Street
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
Online Memory & Photo Sharing Event
Online Event
About this Event
J.R. "Mack" McMenemy

In Loving Memory

J.R. "Mack" McMenemy

1941 - 2023

Look inside to read what others have shared
Family and friends are coming together online to create a special keepsake. Every memory left on the online obituary will be automatically included in this book.