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Family Bio

Jean Nellie MacKay Martineck

Jean Nellie MacKay was born on her mother Janes birthday November 21st, 1914, in Perth Road, Ontario, Canada. It was certainly a small present Robert and Jane MacKay brought home to the rest of the family that day. Only 4 lb. at birth, Jean was carried around on a pillow for months by her older sisters Madeline and Anna.

An incident early in Jeans life could have spelled disaster for the four children Jean borne later in life; they wouldnt have existed. There was a childless couple in Perth Road that begged endlessly to adopt baby Jean MacKay. What if for some reason, Robert and Jane MacKay were moved to help this couple. I can only imagine a scenario similar to Jimmy Stewarts role in "Its A Wonderful Life." Family, friends and acquaintances that would have gone untouched by her special qualities.

At the age of six, Jean and the family moved to Brockville, Ontario, Canada where the kids attended a one-room schoolhouse. Just four years later the family immigrated to the United States and first settled on a farm near Medina, N.Y. This lasted just three years and in 1927, the family moved to Dunlop Avenue, off Sheridan Drive, which was just being constructed. A certain younger sister likes to tell the story about how her (older) 13 year old sister Jean and some of her friends would go down to the road construction area and actually enjoy chewing the warm tar from the paving.

During this same period on Dunlop Avenue, Robert and Jane MacKay were instrumental in organizing the Sheridan Park United Presbyterian Church. The humble beginning came as they invited neighborhood children into their home on Sunday afternoon to sing hymns and hear Bible Stories. Jean was a key part of this program as she was the only pianist in the family. Gathering around the piano to hear Jean play and joining in song was a source of joy to the entire family, especially her father Robert. Many an evening was spent singing popular as well as spiritual songs.

Only three years were spent on Dunlop Avenue and then there were moves to the Kenmore area and then the Riverside area of Buffalo. After finishing up high school, Jean attended Bryant and Stratton Business School and began her career as a legal secretary and continued to live on Tonawanda Street.

Jean had the usual flair for athletics that many MacKays demonstrated. Many a day was spent on the tennis courts in Riverside Park playing ten to twelve sets a day with her sister. It was on these courts that Jean met Mike Martineck who was playing professional baseball at the time. One day, Jeans friends Lola and George Heidenriech needed a doubles partner for another friend Mike Martineck. Game Set Match; Jean and Mike were married on June 11, 1936.

In looking back through our childhood, our teens and even through our adulthood, our mother Jean seemed to have a twofold purpose in mind when it came to her children save us from any pain or hurt and give us plenty of room to grow. Shed cover for us, forgive us and somehow understand when we fouled up again.

After selling the cottage in Canada and the house on Ross Avenue, Jean and Mike moved to Love Road on Grand Island in 1965. It was probably the only home that Jean felt was truly her own. She happily continued her work at the Church but soon her babies were no longer around. A couple of marriages, a son working out of state and another soon off to war. It was probably a bittersweet time one of freedom and one of the empty nest syndrome.

It was during this period of time, specifically 1968, that Jean and her sister Dorothy got together to formulate the organization of the MacKay Clan. They held meetings, recruited the willing and the unwilling, twisted arms, made phone calls and planned the charter and the annual meetings. They didnt do this to fill in free time neither of them had any. They did it out of a fervent belief in family immediate and extended. Because of the enormous love they had for their family, they wanted others to share in those feelings. For years, Jean was the quiet, working, organizing, capable, dependable "hub" of the family wheel that Dorothy and others worked around. As a small remembrance of her years of service to the MacKay Clan, the annual Jean Martineck Silent Service Award is given to the individual that best exemplifies her giving traits.

It may seem that Jeans life was completely tied up in taking care of other people and their lives, leaving her to be the one always making the sacrifices. This may seem to many to be a joyless life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Ask anyone who knew Jean Nellie MacKay Martineck what they remember. The stories will be different but the essence will be the same. Jean loved being with people in all circumstances celebrating the good things, sharing the grief, laughing at the frivolous, passing time in silence. She had a joy for life. What do you remember? It may be the parties she organized: her favorite was "Murder" in which she sent official summons to guests. She even had someone paint the windows of her upperflat black to help insure the "murderers" escape. It may be sharing several Canadian Ales at Thunder Bay. It may be the look on her face and the fun she had at the wedding reception. The tear in her eye when her baby returns home from war and the parties that followed. It may be the motor trips many shared with Jean and Mike. Perhaps you were on the wrong end of one of her infamous tie cutting attacks. Maybe it was that tender kiss given only to grandchildren. How many remember how she could turn the sadness of a wake into a happy remembrance? Jean always seemed to have the most fun at any party she threw or attended.

They lived in various towns together depending on whom Mike was playing for at the time. Jean continued with her tennis and played for some womens baseball teams. Before long, they were back in Buffalo and the first of their four children, Michael Robert was born in 1939. Housekeeping was set up on Crowley Avenue once Mikes ball career was over and two more children Marilyn Helen and Gary Louis arrived during the "war years."

Jean continued her legal secretary work and Mike worked for some time at the Riverside Mens Shop. This would serve as a formation for a business venture down the road. About 1948 a tough decision had to be made. It was decided for a multitude of reasons that the family would move to the Ross Avenue home Mikes parents Helen and Louis.

Being immigrants from the Croatian section of Yugoslavia they were very set in their ways and very protective of their only son. Even after Jean converted to Catholicism there was tension and some resentment. Jean dealt with it and never let it spill over into family relationships.

Soon after the move to Ross Avenue, a fourth child, Donald Paul was born. A business venture was born also Rupp and Martinecks Mens Shop "The Knotty Pine Shop". This is the beginning of the Martineck Family remembrances, all of which were so deeply entwined with the MacKay Familys.

Christmas visits to all the Aunts and Uncles; all together at Sam and Madelines farm; Long Beach, Letchworth State Park; Ellicott Creek; the Cottage at Thunder Bay; Westlake. These are the strong memories from the 1950s. Family together, sharing stories true and tall, people laughing, sometimes crying these were what Jean was all about.

There were tough times too. Eventually, the Martineck in Rupp & Martineck sold out and began selling Chrysler/Plymouths at Aschbacker Motors. Jean began a long involvement at All Saints Church as parish Secretary. In good and bad times, the first concern was always with her family Martinecks and MacKays. Jean always put the needs of her husband, her children, her brothers and sisters, her friends and her Church before her own. She sacrificed physically, emotionally and financially for the good of her family and friends.

All through this period and for the rest of her life, Jean acted as mediator between children, between sisters and brother. She was the family advisor, the soother of hurt feelings. During times of illness and death, she stepped in to nurse others and execute wills. Jean became the one others depended upon. Why? Because of trust and the knowledge that she would never abuse that trust.

Jean Nellie MacKay Martineck served other people, showed pride in her husband and children, knew how to celebrate life, shared herself with her brothers and sisters, served her church and found joy in others that few ever do.

Jean died in peace on February 28, 1982. The people she touched, the guidelines to happiness she gave us, the love she gave to us all, remains. It only lies with each of us to look back and remember. Weve been shown the way that life was meant to be lived. Thanks Mom.