Marilyn Content (Hartley) McKay was born August 1, 1938 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, to E.B. and Velda Hartley, the middle of three daughters. She died at her home on December 24 after many years of physical challenges which she faced with courage and faith and the support of her husband and family. Marilyn spent her childhood in various parsonages in northeast Indiana as part of the Hartley ministry team and spent vacations and holidays with the large extended family from both sides who all lived in Indiana. In 1952, her family made a momentous ministry move to Moscow, Idaho, where Marilyn entered high school as a freshman. Music and drama became her entry points into this new and somewhat intimidating culture.
In 1955, the Hartley family moved to Boise, Idaho, where her father became pastor of Boise First Church of the Nazarene. So Marilyn had another move just before her senior year and into a much larger high school. But again, music and drama provided new friends and ways to connect. After her H. S. graduation in 1956, she entered Northwest Nazarene College (now University). She had the lead as a freshman in the play “Love is Eternal”, playing Mary Todd, and was active in Crusader Choir. She also traveled with a singing group of young women during a summer visiting Nazarene churches in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
On June 2, 1961, Marilyn married the love of her life, Neil McKay, in Boise, Idaho. They began singing together at their wedding. Neil also sang to Marilyn, backed up by his quartet, the song “Always.” Through all the years of their marriage, he played on the piano in the evening for her the strains of “I’ll be loving you, Always”—right to the end. They lived in San Jose, then moved to Moscow for Law School at the University of Idaho where Marilyn helped to support them, then to Milwaukee, and finally to Spokane, Washington for many years. In each of these places, they were a music ministry team at the Nazarene Churches, with Neil leading the music, and Marilyn singing often with him and helping to produce many cantatas at Christmas and Easter and other special events. They sang together for many weddings and funerals. Marilyn finished her Bachelors’ degree at Whitworth University in Spokane in 1985, majoring in religion. She thoroughly enjoyed the academic rigor, intellectual demands and friendships she made. She and Neil were also able to travel extensively in Europe and Asia and Canada, among others, fulfilling their early dreams of visiting “far away places.” They retired to Nampa in 2007. The McKays celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with their family in June of 2021.
Marilyn was an amazing sister. She actually started singing early in her life as the “Hartley sisters” sang trios in church and also while they were doing dishes at their mother’s behest “so they wouldn’t fight!” After living all over the country and even the world, It was a special blessing for the three sisters to be in the same town during retirement to exchange angels, hold afternoon teas for friends, go shopping, celebrate birthdays, do cookie bakes, and encourage one another.
Marilyn and Neil were blessed with two children – Todd McKay and Heather (McKay) Becker. Marilyn loved being a wife and mother and provided a warm and nurturing environment for their growing up and later for the grandchildren that they brought. There were games and cookie baking, and warm, intimate conversations one-on-one with each dear one. She could make each one feel as if they were the only person in her universe for that point in time. And she provided that same intense interest to other neighbors, friends, family and sisters as she reached out to support and encourage.
Above all, Marilyn was characterized by her vibrant faith in God. She read widely and deeply and pondered the mysteries. Christian music carried her through many days. Her deepest desire was that those she loved would have an abiding walk with God as she did. Her example of faith and acceptance under pressure will be a lasting legacy for all those who were privileged to know her.
Marilyn is survived by her husband, Neil McKay, of Nampa, a son, Todd McKay, of Phoenix, AZ, a daughter, Heather Becker (Kenny) of Nampa, grandchildren, Brendan McKay, Francesca McKay, Avana McKay of Phoenix, AZ., Kyler Becker (Brannon) of Arvada, CO, McKaylee Becker, Aubriana Becker, of Nampa, a sister, Sharon Mowry, of Nampa, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A Memorial service will be held at College Church of the Nazarene, 504 E. Dewey Ave., Nampa, Idaho, on Friday, January 14, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. Arrangements are under the direction of the Nampa Funeral Home, Yraguen Chapel. An online guestbook is available at www.nampafuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Feed My Starving Children (www.FMSC.org) or to Hands of Hope, 1201 S. Powerline Rd., Nampa, ID 83686. \
The service will be live streamed and you can find the link at: www.nampacollegechurch.com and down at the bottom of the page there is a circle that says "Watch Live" and that should take you to the stream. You should be able to get on at around 1:45 PM.