Mary Jane (Dybbro) McKinley
1926 - 2020
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Mary Jane (Dybbro) McKinley

Our dear Mom, Mary Jane 'MJ' McKinley, passed away peacefully on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020. She left this life after a rich, full 93.5 years, with her 3 kids by her side. If she were writing this herself, she would begin with her favorite exclamation, "I am one of the luckiest ladies."

MJ was born November 8, 1926 in Mt. Vernon, Washington. She grew up in Anacortes, to parents Paul and Tessie Dybbro, alongside siblings Phillip and Bernice (Evans). Some of her fondest memories were working in her Dad's supermarket during the Great Depression. Her father - a Danish immigrant and butcher -

helped feed many destitute locals, and hungry strangers at their dinner table were common.

Mom inherited her parent's generosity of spirit, and love of good cooking. Often described as 'a breath of fresh air' and a 'real trooper', she was quick to laugh, and blessed with a ton of energy. Mom rarely knew a stranger, only friends she had not met yet. We all bore witness to various surprised reactions when she introduced herself as, 'Mary Jane, like the shoes, and marijuana'. This speaks volumes for her irreverent spirit, and good humor.

MJ graduated from Anacortes High school in 1944, and attended WSU for 2 years as a Sigma Kappa. After a brief first marriage, Mom went to Chicago for a change of scene. It was a wonderful, exciting time in her life. She worked for psychiatrists, on Adlai Stevenson's presidential campaign, and reveled in city life. She Returned to Seattle in the early 50's, again worked for psychiatrists, and later for John Graham Architects. In 1955, she met Don McKinley on a blind date, married him in '56, and by 1960, was busy with 3 children: Scott, Holly, and Jill. With her first child, Mary Jane "knew why I had been placed on this earth." She was a loving, caring Mom, and motherhood never stopped being priority #1.

Their first 8 years were a 'weekend marriage', as Dad spent weekdays in Eastern Washington. Our family relocated from Edmonds to Yakima in 1965, where Dad's businesses, PDQ Frozen Foods and McKinley Seafood, were located. With the family reunited, Mom worked in the office for several years, and was a passionate PTA activist while we were in school.

Mom made friends wherever she went, and life in Yakima was full of community. She was a fantastic bridge player, and her 'Stitch N Bitch' club brought years of camaraderie, with very little sewing.

After Dad's retirement, MJ and Don travelled the world together, often with groups of dear lifelong

friends. They hit every continent at least once, aside from Antarctica. They also spent many years sailing the waters of the San Juan and Gulf Islands on Dad's dream vessel, the Admiral Puff Puff II. These were happy times in our family, despite a few ill-fated voyages running aground, and nearly sinking.

MJ was a dedicated mother and volunteer, but rarely got enough credit for her business acumen. She continued to operate and expand a successful rental property business after Dad retired, and after his passing in 2007. We are all so proud of how she managed everything.

Mom LOVED her friends, and nurtured relationships from all phases of her life. After almost 50 years in Yakima, the decision to relocate to Seattle was a tough one. She made the move in '14 to be closer to the kids, and became one of the first residents at Aegis on Madison. She lived in joyful contentment there, known for her enthusiastic participation in all activities. She always viewed the world through rose colored glasses, but when Alzheimer's began to take its toll on her mind, she simply lost the ability to hold a negative thought at all. Thankfully, her long-term memory remained until her final days: she never forgot those she loved. MJ's huge heart embodied immense gratitude, and the true meaning of Mom's life manifested in her kindness to others.

Our family is deeply grateful to the staff of Aegis on Madison, for the unparalleled care they took of our Mom. The wonderful folks in this community are heroes. They made the last 6 years of her life some of her best.

Mary Jane is survived by her loving children Scott McKinley (Katie Poinier), Holly McKinley (Greg Lamb), and Jill Ward (Mark), grandkids Wil McKinley, Jack and Jessica Lamb. We miss her SOOO much, and will carry her in our hearts forever.

In lieu of flowers, donations to Yakima Valley Museum, Planned Parenthood, or a charity of your choice are appreciated.

One of Mom's favorite sayings was "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." When this time of COV19 is contained, we will gather in celebration of her life, and do just that!

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times on May 17, 2020.
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