Details of services
A celebration of Allan’s life will be held in August, with details to follow. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory can be made to the McClure Miller Respite House in Colchester.
Allan Norman Mackey died peacefully on January 20, 2023 at the McClure Miller Respite House in Colchester, surrounded by his family.
Allan was born in Philadelphia on August 16, 1937, son of W. Norman Mackey and Celeste Parvin. His childhood included frequent trips with his father to Shibe Park to cheer on the Phillies and summer excursions to Avalon, New Jersey with his mother, father, and sister Betsy in their 1940 Plymouth. Allan’s connection to the beach in Avalon -- where his parents had first met and he had spent childhood summers -- was deep and enduring, and he would go on to walk, body surf and pitch clam shells on those same beaches the rest of his life.
By his early teens, Allan had developed into an exceptional student and decent classical pianist but, much to his mother’s chagrin, around this time he discovered the music of Chuck Berry and Little Richard and his fate was sealed. The piano was forgotten and his love affair with rock-n-roll began. Learning (and later teaching) would be another of Allan’s passions and through his academic achievements, he earned scholarships to Friends Central High School (Class of 1955) and Swarthmore College (Class of 1959-almost).
Allan’s professional life started with what he often described as his favorite job of all, summers loading kegs at Schmidt’s Brewery in Philadelphia. Allan received good-natured ribbing as “Mackey’s nephew” from his fellow unionized workers — his uncle William was in management — and he took away the lesson that work, no matter how difficult, could be fun with the right attitude and colleagues. Although the job aligned closely with his love of baseball and rock-n-roll, it didn’t help his studies and he left Swarthmore College to work at John Wanamaker flagship department store in center city Philadelphia. There, he fell in love with Helen Riegels — a Corning Ware sales rep from Vermont — and they were married in 1962.
Over the next decade, Allan and Helen had two sons while Allan completed an undergraduate degree at Temple University and an MBA at Harvard University. He also served in the Army National Guard where he discovered – improbably – that he was an excellent shot with the howitzer, which earned him a reprieve from his Sergeant for his other shortcomings as a self-described “poor” soldier. From his time in the Army, Allan developed a strong dislike for guns and camping but, like many episodes in his life, he took away many hilarious stories and lifelong friendships.
After a short stint in Washington D.C. and with much prodding from Helen, they packed up the kids and moved to Vermont in 1971. Allan was a city kid at heart so the cold, snowy Vermont winters came as quite a shock, but in summers he found that a walk at #10 Pond could rival, if not equal, a walk on the beach. And most importantly, he found a community of Vermonters that shared his values — including his love of rock-n-roll — and he quickly developed the deep relationships that would sustain him through the long winters and make central Vermont the place he would call home for the rest of his life.
Allan worked briefly for the State of Vermont before starting his own business, Allan N Mackey Associates, in 1975. For 40 years, Allan deployed his talent for active listening and thoughtful facilitation to help organizations manage difficult transitions. His clients varied from small Vermont businesses to nonprofits to multinational corporations to state and federal government agencies, including supporting the Federated States of Micronesia with the development of its government institutions as it prepared for independence in 1979. He was most proud of the frequency with which his client relationships turned into lifelong friendships.
Allan never lost his passion for his childhood pursuits. He travelled frequently to see baseball games and rock concerts and made an annual pilgrimage to the Jersey shore to walk the beaches and reconnect with his Philadelphia roots. He taught the history of rock-n-roll at community colleges, community centers, high schools, college reunions, and to anyone that would listen. At age 82, Allan held his last music program celebrating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock with a full house at the Montpelier Senior Center, attended a Colorado Rockies game at Coors field with his grandkids, traveled to the beach in Hilton Head with his sister and nephews, and danced to a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band at Higher Ground with his son.
Allan had a relentlessly positive attitude and valued laughter and love above all else. He had the uncanny ability to remember the names of everyone he ever met and, even in his final weeks, he was on the phone sharing stories about the “Glory Days” with lifelong friends. He always sought to bring people together to build new friendships and reinforce old connections. He leaves behind many fond memories of these gatherings, including legendary “T-Shirt” parties at the Mackey home in East Calais village, body surfing contests at the Jersey Shore, and the annual spring opening of the Thrush Tavern patio in Montpelier (often in deep snow).
His love of beach, baseball and rock-n-roll was passed on to his sons and his grandchildren, and while he did not quite have the opportunity to catch a wave or see a show with his great grandson, the legacy of the enthusiasm and joy that he brought to these pursuits is in good hands and there is little doubt that they will extend to a fourth generation.
Allan is survived by his sons; Scott (Kathy) of Waterbury, Vermont and Blake (Iratxe) of Boulder, Colorado; grandchildren Doug, Eric, Willow, Mikel, Ane, and Naia; great grandson Summit; sister, Betsy; nephews Doug and Todd; and niece Maya. He was predeceased by wife of 56 years, Helen.
Allan’s family is indebted to the staff at Mayo Healthcare in Northfield, where Allan lived for the last 18 months of his life. He truly felt that Mayo was “home” thanks to the care and dedication of the people there.