Jane Coyle McKay 

Jane McKay sadly passed away on December 16, 2023, two weeks to the day after her beloved husband Ferguson McKay and five weeks after celebrating her 100th birthday. Brokenhearted by the loss of her partner of 64 years, she passed with her two daughters by her bedside at The Meadows at East Mountain in Rutland, Vermont. 

Jane was a seventh generation Vermonter who spent her life either residing in the state or yearning to get back to it. She was tenacious about protecting and preserving her family’s history, dating to a Revolutionary war officer who settled in Vermont before it was a state. Cabot was the center of her universe, where she grew up and spent many of her adult years. It is because of Jane that a Victorian home built by her great-grandparents remains in the family today, passed down through five generations of women and full of treasures from those many years. She instilled a love for Cabot and for Vermont in her own family. 

Jane was a devoted wife and mother who was always there for a hug and a kiss, sometimes with cookies, always with too many vegetables. Dinner was regularly served with at least two veggies from the garden and a salad, and conversation about the day. She was kind, gracious, protective, and had a big warm infectious smile that could light up a room. Her happiest moments were when she was surrounded by her family. She made friends wherever she went and doted on her two daughters.

Like her husband Ferg, Jane was both generous and frugal. She was an enthusiastic shopper who never saw a sale rack she didn’t want to peruse. She taught her daughters never to waste food, to reuse aluminum foil and Ziploc bags, and how to best navigate Filene’s Basement. She loved Liberty print blouses, Talbots, hot fudge sundaes, and scotch on the rocks, which she drank at her 100th birthday party. 

She was an eager host who always made guests feel at home, with warm blankets on the beds, food in the kitchen, and things to do. She was also an avid card player, forming a bridge group while living at the Gables at East Mountain and easily beating much younger family members at rummy. 

Born “across the river” in Hanover, New Hampshire on November 8, 1923, Jane spent her early years in Springfield, Mass., where her father ran a children’s clothing factory. When he lost the factory in the Depression, the family moved to the family home in Cabot. 

Jane thrived in Cabot, in her multigenerational family, at school, and with friendships in the tight community. “A Childhood of Freedom + Adventure,” she later called it in an essay reminiscing about skiing and tobogganing on a hill behind her house, and about a church social group where young people shared boxed lunches.  

Jane attended junior college in Vermont before matriculating at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Mass., now part of Harvard University. She taught elementary school for several years after college, including on a U.S. Air Force base in Goose Bay, Labrador. 

That was just one of her many adventures as a young woman. Jane also fearlessly skied Tuckerman Ravine on Mt. Washington, studied for a summer in Oslo, Norway, traveled through Europe and sailed home alone on a freighter. She never lost her desire to travel, even asking her daughters in her final months to take her on a cruise or trip to her favorite country – England.

Jane met Ferguson at a church singles group in Cambridge, and they married on June 20, 1959. Her love of Vermont drew her new family back to the state in 1967 when Ferg took a job at Lyndon State College (now Vermont State University Lyndon). After Ferg retired, he and Jane spent the next 26 summers living back in Cabot. Jane loved having cocktails with friends on the porch, serving trays crackers and cheese to guests when she was well into her 90s.    

Jane and Ferg moved to the Gables in Rutland in 2018 and then the Meadows. The family would like to thank the Meadows staff and At Home Senior Care caregivers for their love and devotion in Jane and Ferg’s final years.

Jane is survived by two daughters, Betsy McKay of Woodbridge, Connecticut, and Peggy (McKay) Shinn of Rutland, their spouses Neil Bainton and Andrew Shinn, three grandchildren (Larisa and Andy Bainton, and Sam Shinn), and grandson-in-law Kevin Hernandez. She is predeceased by her parents and two sisters. 

A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 6 at 2 p.m. at Grace Congregational Church in Rutland, with a second memorial and burial service for Ferg and Jane in Cabot this coming June. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jane’s memory may be made to the United Church of Cabot, P.O. Box 127, Cabot, VT 05647 or the Preservation Trust of Vermont at https://ptvermont.org/about/give/. Arrangements are with Tossing Funeral Home in Rutland.