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Barbara J. MacKay


Barbara J. MacKay

Barbara J. MacKay, known affectionately as "Barb," passed away peacefully on Saturday morning, June 1, 2019 at her home in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She was 89 and blessed with a life enriched by family, friendships, Grand Lake, grace, laughter, remarkable fortitude and esteem as a duplicate bridge legend.

Barb’s life had a rather romantic beginning. She shared the maternity ward at the Fredericton Victoria Public Hospital with one other newborn, John Earnest MacKay, who she would meet again two decades later on a blind date and ultimately marry.

The second eldest of 7 siblings, Barb was raised in Minto and inherited her trademark self-discipline, stamina, firmness, graciousness and competitive spirit from her mother Mary and father Walter C. Lawson, a noted lawyer, political figure and decorated military leader in World Wars I and II. Her remarkable track record of 100 in algebra throughout her early school years foreshadowed a brilliant career later in life as one of the Maritime’s most formidable duplicate bridge players.

After a Princess Park double date, Barb and Jack MacKay embarked on a Grand Lake courtship, boating between the MacKay cottage at Robertson Point and the Lawson cottage on Sunnyside Beach where they were married on August 15, 1953. After ten years in Montreal, Connecticut and Rhode Island completing Jack’s medical and residency training, Barb and Jack returned to Fredericton in 1960 and settled into a home on Riverview Court to raise three sons and where Barb lived until the last morning of her life. Her annual post-Garrison Club New Year’s Eve parties and sobering oyster stew; passion for curling, tennis, bowling, TV game shows, crossword puzzles, homemade strawberry jam and gourmet cooking; annual Florida vacations and family summer gatherings at the lake cottage were a few of the many joys that kept Barb young at heart and energetic throughout her life.

The cottage at Robertson Point remained the summer centerpiece of Barb’s 57-year marriage to Jack and family vacations. Her legendary (and delectable) late night dinner gatherings, long swims, fierce tennis spirit, Caesars, happy hours on the deck, popsicles for the kids, and marathon bridge games earned her Grand Dame status at the Point.

Following Dr. MacKay’s passing in 2011, Barb’s lifelong passion for duplicate bridge sustained her even more. Her father taught her the game in high school as a beneficial social skill for when she left home. That skill evolved into a lifetime of tournament wins and contributions to the duplicate bridge world.

Barb’s stature as a bridge player dates back to the late 1960s with the Fredericton Duplicate Bridge Club and the first Can-At tournament held in Fredericton in 1967. She received recognition at the Moncton Can-At in 2017 as one of only 2 players still attending. By 1973 Barb had achieved the level of Life Master‎ and today ranks as a Sapphire Life Master with the American Contract Bridge League currently holding 4360 + MP's. She attended over thirty North American Bridge Tournaments across the United States and Canada and played and won on several Women's Teams representing the Fredericton unit in the Canadian Bridge League Federation Games throughout the years. Her bridge career spans The Last Duel Bridge Club in New Maryland, The Tuesday Morning Bridge Club at the Legion, the Club at Stepping Stones, and most recently The Fiddlehead Bridge Studio. Barb was also a certified bridge teacher and role model for generations of students who still remark about her teaching skills and treasured classes.

Barb lives on through her three sons — John MacKay (Donna) of Woodstock, NB, David MacKay of Washington, DC and Michael MacKay of Winnipeg, MB; grandchildren Gareth (Sarah), Allison, Jaclyn (Mike), Mallory (Lonnie) and Andrew; great grandchildren Jackson, Rylan, Brycen, Chloe, Georgia, Lucy, James and Laniya; sister Betty (Lawson) Whyte; in-laws J.W. "Bud" Bird and Linda Lawson; numerous nieces, nephews and godchildren; and her cherished bridge partners. 

Barb was predeceased by her husband Dr. John E. MacKay and siblings Ann Marie, Frances, Bill, Peggy and Charlotte.

A celebration of Barb’s life will take place at St. Paul’s United Church in Fredericton on Friday, June 7th at 2:00pm. A reception will follow at the Fredericton Golf Club from 3:00-5:00 pm and possibly a bridge game too…if Barb has her way.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to commemorate Barb’s life are invited to contribute to the Canadian Cancer Society or Ducks Unlimited. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to McAdam's Funeral Home.

Service Date
Friday, June 7, 2019
Service Time
2:00 pm

Visitation Location

Burial Location
Fredericton Rural Cemetery

Requested Charity
Canadian Cancer Society, Ducks Unlimited