Sheila Marie McKay
September 11th, 1961 - April 29th, 2023
The bright shining light of the love of my life has finally gone out. She leaves behind 2 stepsons and a husband who were everything to her. They both considered her "Mom" and although she seemed uncomfortable when it was spoken, I know she really enjoyed hearing it, as in our private conversations she would look at me with a grin. She had 2 favourite times: morning weekend coffee and afternoon 4:00 p.m. coffee time. It was just a chance to sit, reflect and make plans. She especially enjoyed it when either of the two boys showed up during this time. She was thrust into the mom job after marrying her second husband, who had three children, two boys and a girl and one of his sons moved in with them. It was a difficult time but like everything else she took on, she put her heart and soul into it and did a wonderful job being "Mom" to them. Much more diplomatic than her husband, she taught him that it was better to listen first, talk second. Sheila came into Todd’s life for 15 years. They loved to be in the kitchen everyday together cooking and having a great time…it was a bonding moment and she often taught him to open his mind to various delicacies. He would wait for her to come home every day from the business just so they could eat as a family. Every day the bond grew stronger and stronger…they were so much alike. She was the owner/operator of the "Evangeline Inn and Motel" and "Evangeline Restaurant" also known as Stirlings. Sheila and Randy took a risk of purchasing the business from her father, and had her own dreams, ideas and direction she wanted to move the business too. She ran the business with her first husband, Randy who predeceased her and by all accounts she shared a great relationship with. Then with her second husband, who had to earn his stripes by dedicating the time to look after the pool, she then playfully referred to him from then on as her "pool boy". Over the years she was able to achieve her dream of building the business and making it a tourist attraction from all over the world. In 2019 she found out she had cancer and with her husband’s unwavering support they fought that battle and in 2020 she seemed to be cancer free. In late 2021 she sold the business and moved to the "beach" where again she had the vision of what a home should look like and started to modify the cottage into a year-round home. That vision came to a sudden halt when her cancer re-appeared in 2022 and the fight was on again. They joined this fight together again as usual, however this time the cancer succeeded in its quest. Sheila was very active in the Rotary organization, first with the Rotary Club of Wolfville, and later as a founding member of the Rotary Club of Wolfville – Mud Creek where she sat on the Board in the role of Treasurer. Rotary was a big part of Sheila’s life, and she was passionate about giving back through her involvement in Rotary. Sheila was one of the chief architects behind the Mud Creek Toonie Toss and was indispensable in evolving it to the successful fundraiser it has become. Leading this effort was like a second job for Sheila for many years, but despite this level of commitment, it was always a volunteer effort for her. Since its inception 10 years ago, this has raised over $4 million for local charitable causes. This would not have occurred were it not for Sheila’s significant efforts over these years. A more lasting contribution she has made was the work she recently did to sustain this fundraising effort for years to come. Sheila was recognized with some of Rotary’s highest honors and is a two-time recipient of the Rotarian of the Year Award, along with being twice recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow. She is survived by her husband of 15 years Todd McKay and "their" children: Alanna, Connor and Nathan; mother, Kay Stirling of Wallbrook; siblings, Hal Stirling (Angeline) of North Alton; Chris Herbin (Peter) of Grand Pre; Ralph Stirling (Colleen) of Grand Pre; Ellen Kennie (Peter) of Gaspereau; and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her former husband of 19 years, Randy Carey; father, Ralph Stirling; father-in-law, Lemert Carey; father and mother-in-law, Gervaise and Christine McKay.
Nathan shares that Sheila was more than just my dad’s wife, she was a companion, mom, our rock, she was one of the most caring, kind, unique people that has entered my life. She took on one of the biggest challenges anyone could face, accepting three children into her home with open arms. Sheila loved my father Todd, and they were so much alike sometimes it could get scary as they would finish each other's thoughts and sentences. Her love for my father became unmatched, and to show how much she was committed to my father and us, she renovated half of her house to make sure her kids had a place to lay their heads. Over the years I was able to build a connection with Sheila, and unfortunately, our bond was cut short, but it will always be cherished. I will never forget calling home for advice on things I was facing or going through in my life and Sheila was one of the first people to offer her opinion to help me with my best interest at heart. Or the times when at the end of the day, we would all sit together in the living room to watch a funny video, or a movie just to laugh and spend time together. I will never forget how you would always fall asleep first in the chair, and always say "Time for Bed" only to be roped back into another half hour of conversations and laughs. Sheila would always make sure to hug me at the end of a visit home, as any mother would, thanking me for coming to see her and wishing me good luck in whatever chapter of life I was in. I will always cherish the memory of when I first moved into University in residence while I was lugging things to my new room. Sheila made my bed and started putting things in order for me as any mother would to make the transition easier. I will also never forget when I moved into my first apartment and when I left the house how upset she was to see me go. Sheila valued time to spend as a family and loved to be a part of her children's lives. She made it a priority to attend all events I had, such as basketball games, baseball games, graduations, and any special moments I would face in my journey through life. I’m so thankful to have been given an opportunity to grow our connection when I lived at the house, as we would sit and drink coffee and just talk about our days. I will always miss you, love you, and consider you, my Mom. You took that role with pride and loved me as if I was your blood. That is something that can never be replaced or filled, the impact you had on us as a family is something we will cherish forever. Thank you for taking care of my Dad, my brother, and myself, now it is our turn to take care of you. You will never be forgotten, will be cherished, and loved in our family forever. I could write three pages about Sheila, and the impacts she had and how special you are to all of us. I don’t know how to summarize something like this, because it doesn’t do justice for what you did for all of us. So, thank you for everything, I know you’re protecting us and watching over us. I love you.
Connor shares that Sheila was and will for eternity be an amazing mom. I know she wanted the best for her three boys: Todd, Connor, and Nathan; and was so heartbroken that she couldn’t be around to keep watching her two sons grow up and creating new memories with my dad. She adopted and accepted us way before we even knew how to feel about her, just as any mother would be with her kids. She put in such a huge effort to make us a family, which I am so grateful for today. Sheila never gave up. She always tried to make each of our individual relationships work even through the difficult times. Throughout our entire life with her, she constantly showed us that she loved us and cared about us deeply. She showed this love in many of her actions but also in her behavior. She encouraged, loved, scolded, and helped us as if we were her own flesh and blood. I could not have asked for a better role model than Sheila. Her legacy lives in all of us. Every action or sentence we say will always have a touch of Sheila that only people who really knew and loved Sheila could understand. I cannot describe how much Sheila meant to me and how much I owe her my life. It’s hard to imagine a world without Sheila in it. She was always so kind, thoughtful, and caring no matter who you were or how she was feeling in the moment. She taught me to be this way. She taught me a lot during my life with her and I will carry these qualities in my behavior, actions, and heart until the end of my days. I will remember her during every single event in my future when you need your mother, and always recognize that she is there with me, always watching and protecting me through every step of the good and difficult times. She taught me to be independent and strong even when I couldn’t and to be compassionate when I saw someone in trouble. There is so much that I want to say to Sheila, but I already know every answer to my questions, by how she loved and felt about me.
Alanna shares that Sheila came into my life when I was about 12 years old, she took me in and treated me just like one of her own. I couldn't have asked for kinder, sweeter, funnier and fun-loving woman for my dad to grow old with. She made my dad more than happy and I took notes from their wonderful and successful relationship to add to my own. It breaks my heart that cancer took her too early and way too young. I will always remember her, and she will forever live on in my heart. May she rest in peace, I know she will be watching over our family.
We would like to thank all the doctors and nurses who helped Sheila and our family through this difficult time. In particular, Dr. Daniel Rayson, Oncologist and Dr. Maureen Nolan, Radiologist Oncologist and their nurses. We would also like to thank the VON nursing staff, Palliative Care Team-Annapolis Valley and CCA Team.
Visitation will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, May 22 in the White Family Funeral Home, Kentville, where the funeral service will be take place at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. Reverend Gail Whalen Dunn officiating. For those unable to attend, a video webcast will be available. A private family burial will take place at a later date. Donations in memory may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society for Breast Cancer or the charity of your choice. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the White Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Kentville. To view the video webcast and for on-line condolences or inquiries please visit: www.whitefamilyfuneralhome.com.