The UO community honors the life of Doug McKay

Doug McKay

Doug McKay, a giant among civic volunteers and a dedicated Duck, died Wednesday, Dec. 4. He was 81.

The public celebration of his remarkable life will be at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, at the Club at Autzen Stadium.

“Our hearts go out to the McKay family,” said UO President Michael H. Schill. “Doug McKay was a gentle soul and a welcoming spirit, always thinking about moving the University of Oregon and the community around us forward. We will miss his ideas, advice and enthusiasm more than words can say.”

In a 2013 interview for the UO’s Focus newsletter, McKay said he felt his signature trait was a deep and abiding sense of responsibility. That attribute, together with his business acumen, made his leadership especially valuable to the UO, Lane Community College and numerous community organizations.

From piloting a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress in the early 1960s to helping dozens of local nonprofit organizations grow and thrive over five decades, the 1959 UO business graduate could always be counted on to quietly step up and lead.

“Education is even more important to me now than when I was growing up,” McKay said of his volunteer efforts. The walls in his office, covered with awards, plaques and other tokens of gratitude for his service, offered a glimpse into the high priority he placed on community service.

A native son of Eugene, McKay was the head of both North Douglas Wood Products, which manufactures solid alder panels and remanufactures wood components, and McKay Commercial Properties.

He began working long before he arrived on campus as a freshman business major, bagging groceries and stocking shelves in his family’s iconic McKay’s Market stores, a longtime Oregon brand. While still in high school, he joined with his parents and sister as co-founder of McKay Investments.

At the UO, McKay joined Air Force ROTC and Delta Tau Delta. He went on to finish near the top of his class at flight school and served in the U.S. Strategic Air Command.

When he returned home to Eugene, he renewed his community ties and took on the challenge of keeping his old fraternity house afloat during the period when Greek organizations saw steep membership declines. Thanks largely to his efforts, the Delts are the only UO fraternity to still occupy their original house.

“l got a lot of guidance from the first generation and now plan to pass that onto the next one,” McKay said in 2018 for a testimonial on behalf of the Charles H. Lundquist College of Business. With his parents as his model, McKay formed McKay Commercial Properties with his daughters in 2007.

An early adopter of sustainability practices in commercial developments, McKay said he enjoyed keeping up with campus happenings. He particularly liked to support highly interdisciplinary projects such as UO’s Sustainable Cities Initiative, a cross-disciplinary partnership that promotes education, service, public outreach and research on the design and development of sustainable cities.

McKay Commercial Properties developed and owns the Slocum Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, which was certified LEED Gold in addition to winning the 2010 Better Bricks Award for green building practices from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.

McKay served on the UO Foundation Board of Directors from 2010-18, was a current member of the Lane Community College Board, and belonged to UO’s Arnold Bennett Hall Legacy Society. He recently honored the Lundquist College of Business with a gift supporting faculty excellence, which he described as a long-term investment in the college overall.

A portion of the gift also supported another passion, Oregon athletics. A season-ticket holder for several sports, McKay loved his Ducks.

Generous throughout the community, McKay’s financial support for his alma mater also touched Presidential Scholarships and the Ford Alumni Center. In the Lundquist College, his faculty fund supports the McKay Professor and the technology center named in memory of his parents.

McKay also funded a technology classroom at the Lundquist College as a tribute to his late wife, Carol, whom he met while stationed at Loring Air Force Base in Caribou, Maine. He is survived by their daughters, Amy Romero and Tracie (Ramin Shojai), and four grandchildren.

—By Melody Ward Leslie, University Communications