McKay, Emmett Lee


Emmett Lee McKay was born in (old) Lewisville, Arkansas February 11, 1901, the son of John N. McKay and Ella Lee McKay. His birthplace was the home built by his maternal great-grandfather, Josiah Garland, in 1839. Here he spent his childhood and youth, and received his basic education--graduating from High School there prior to his enrollment in Hendrix College.
His father, John N. McKay, was a farmer and carpenter. Both his father and mother, together with their four sons and one daughter, were regular attendants and active members of the Old Lewisville Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Rev. R. W. McKay, an uncle, was a member of the Little Rock Conference serving as Pastor and Presiding Elder, and as an influential member of a number of Conference Boards.
Emmett was profoundly influenced by both his father and his preacher uncle. As a minister he a ways retained a love for rural life, and was so adept with his carpenter’s tools that he oftened repaired doors and windows, and added rooms to the parsonages and churches he served.
In 1921 Emmett entered Hendrix College at Conway, Arkansas as a ministerial student, where he worked as a waiter in the college dining hall and in various other capacities to pay his way through college. During his stay at Hendrix he and the author of these memoirs became fast friends; he often visited in my home in Little Rock, where he was so much a part of the family that my mother called him “son.”
Among other friends at Hendrix College was Marshall T. Steel, later president of that institution. Dr. Steel writes: “Like all his friends, I will always be grateful for the life and service of Emmett McKay. I first met him when we were students at Hendrix. He was highly respected for his sincerity and for his genuine commitment to the Methodist ministry. His friendship has been a source of joy and inspiration to me.
Another friend of college days was Aubrey G. Walton, later to become Emmett’s bishop in Louisiana. Bishop Walton writes: “I knew Emmett McKay for almost fifty years. We were students at Hendrix College in the 1920’s. Later we served as ministers in the Little Rock Annual Conference, and for twelve years I was his bishop in Louisiana. We were close friends and I regarded him with respect and affection. He demonstrated his Christian dedication by his integrity, unselfishness and compassion. He was a good minister of Jesus Christ.”
Responsibilities to his family caused interruptions in his schooling, and on his second return to Hendrix in 1925, he met Miss Pearl Bittle of Ft. Smith whom he married in November, 1928, at Tulsa Oklahoma.
Also, in November, 1928, Emmett joined the Little Rock Conference where he served for 12 years, after which he transferred to the Louisiana Conference where he served another 21½ years before retirement in June, 1966. After a six-month’s stay in Ruston he and his wife moved to Shreveport in November, from which point he supplied two appointments near Shreveport, worked at his second vocation of carpentering, and enjoyed fishing in his spare time.
Churches he served were: Little Rock Conference--Hickory Plains Circuit (6 churches and 2 school houses), Holly Springs, Center Point, Dalark, Arkansas City and Montrose; Louisiana Conference--Watson (Live Oak), Bogalusa (Columbia St.), Church Point, Rodessa, St. Francisville, Pioneer, Effie, Pollock, Grand Cane, Pelican, Mooringsport and Wesley Church (Crowley).
He died in Schumpert Hospital Shreveport, September 20, 1972. Funeral services were conducted by Dr. Jack Cooke and Dr. Porter M. Caraway at Rose-Neath Funeral Home. Interment was in Forest Park Cemetery.
His survivors are his widow; his son, Bobbie Lee McKay, a postal employee in Los Angeles, CA; his daughter, Betty Janelle, now Mrs. James Whitler, a school teacher in Shreveport, La.; and by three grandchildren and seven adopted grandchildren.
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1973; p. 127 By Virgil D. Morris

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