WILLIAM JAMES MCKAY William "Bill" James McKay, 89, of Southport, NC, passed away on May 3 at SECU Hospice House of Brunswick. Born on November 18, 1924 in Philadelphia, PA to Thomas McKay and Theresa Powell, Bill spent his childhood in Gloucester, NJ, enlisting in the U.S. Army at the age of 18. During World War II, he was assigned to the 294th and 297th Combat Engineer Battalions and was among those who crossed Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy before he moved on to campaigns in Germany. In 2012, in recognition of his contribution during World War II, he was awarded the French Legion of Honour Medal by the Consulat General de France. He also served briefly in the Army Reserve, the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy. At the conclusion of the war, Bill took classes in carpentry, industrial design and drafting via the GI Bill of Rights. He worked in heavy construction in the northeast before settling into a long career as a design engineer, specializing in machinery, piping and instrumentation. Bill will be remembered for his remarkable command of history and his gift for storytelling. He loved to travel and shared this love with his four children. After earning his pilot's license, he bought a Piper Tri-Pacer, and later, a sailboat, which became vehicles for many adventures in the U.S. and Canada. He cared deeply about good government and believed strongly in its responsibility to the working classes. He was a talented amateur artist who enjoyed painting and photography. Upon retirement, Bill turned to writing. He dabbled in fiction, but felt most proud of the personal narratives he wrote about his experiences in the armed forces, some of which are available through the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. Bill is survived by his wife, Wynne; his daughters Jenifer McKay Buscher Coleman, Pat McKay (Bill), and Diane McKay (Rob), as well as his grandson Danu Buscher. He is preceded in death by his parents, his son William McKay, and his grandsons Robin and Rainey Buscher. A special thanks to Coastal Companion Care and Lower Cape Fear Hospice staff for their loving care and support. Cremation under the direction of Peacock-Newnam & White with private services and burial at sea to follow. You may send online condolences to www.peacocknewnamwhite.com Peacock-Newnam & White Funeral and Cremation Service, Southport, North Carolina.
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Published in the Wilmington Star-News from May 4 to May 6, 2014