The Rockford Files

A Good and Faithful Servant

“MacKay.”  I struggled for some time with how to render those six letters, in a vain attempt to convey some sense of what it was like to hear Pete pick up the other end of the phone line.  I could never do justice to the experience.  Somehow, Pete managed to stretch the two short syllables of his last name out over several seconds and to turn them into a summary of his whole being: from the low and humble muh to the crescendoing kAY, following by the falling Ay, which the person making the phone call might have mistaken for a syllable in itself, had he not known better.

His was a voice so deep and rich and, outside of the Winnebago County Board meeting room and other political venues, so soft-spoken that it was sometimes hard for me to make out what Pete was saying over the phone.  But I never had any trouble understanding his name.  If a man’s word is his bond, Pete’s family name was his honor.

Peter M. MacKay passed into eternal life on December 13, 2011, at the age of 78.  He was among the last of a certain generation of public servants—no politician, Pete—who were born early enough to remember the hardships of the Great Depression and the sacrifices of World War II, but late enough to come of age during the middle of the “American Century.”  Those experiences helped make him the man that...

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