On June 3, 2017, Theodore Aitken McKay—a jazz lover, humanist, horseman, and loving husband and father—died peacefully in Malibu with his family close by.
“The surfing legend left Thatcher School in Ojai in a green convertible with cool jazz on the radio, and promptly embarked on a life of service to his community in 1962,” a loved one described. With a master’s degree in special education from CSULA and a stable of eight horses in Zuma Canyon, he and his wife Pamela McKay offered equine therapy services to special needs students in the Las Virgenes district schools, disadvantaged inner-city youth and disabled students at the Harmony Center, a private special education school.
Ted was a wrangler, bus driver, stall mucker, teacher and chairman of the special education department at Calabasas High School.
“He was a humble man, revered member of the community, a longtime member of the S.G.I. Buddhism and a principal at the USC Reading Center,” a loved one said.
The McKays raised three children—Tanya, Philip and Briar—on their ranch, along with all those horses, dogs, cats, chickens and rabbits. They hunted with hounds (West Hills Hunt), ran with the Trancas Riders and Ropers, and loved camping with family and friends (in the ‘59 Airstream).
“As Ted slowly started to slip into Parkinson’s disease 18 years ago, he and Pam noticed that the more he worked with his horses, the more he fought the symptoms, with peace in his mind and heart,” a loved one said. “His last mount, Red, was of particular assistance.”