Chris and her sisters grew up as farm girls in rural Montana, near Kalispell. She attended a two-room school through eighth grade, and then graduated from Flathead County High School in 1971. She attended Eastern Washington College in Cheney, Washington, where she earned her B.A. with a special education endorsement. She graduated with honors in 1975.
Her first teaching job was in White Sulfur Springs, Montana. She then spent a year teaching in Minnesota before coming to Alaska. After two years teaching in Dillingham, she came to Kodiak and made it her home for 37 years. She taught Special Education classes at Kodiak High school for many years and later earned her Masters’ Degree in Counseling. She worked as an elementary school counselor at East Elementary until her retirement from the Kodiak Island Borough School District. Chris made a second career working for the State of Alaska in a number of capacities, including being the Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. She also worked in grant-funded programs at Kodiak Community College. During all of her careers, Chris continued earning education endorsements and certificates in areas that enhanced the tasks at hand.
Chris was devoted to her family. Family gatherings with parents, sisters, brother-in-laws, nieces and nephews and other extended family and friends were her favorite vacations. She was our family historian. After her mom passed away, she spent time with her dad each year, both in Montana and when he came here to visit. She and her three sisters had a special bond and enjoyed exclusive “sister trips” as often as possible, where they could relax and have fun together. Her nieces and nephews were her pride and joy, and the subsequent great nieces and nephews also were held near and dear to her heart. With love, she made many individualized quilts and gifts for each one. Greta, her precious dog, was her baby; spoiled, doted on, and loved unconditionally. A special group of friends she was part of for most of her years here, referred to as “the sisterhood”, have always made a exceptional kind of fun together, and have come together for each other in good times and in crisis. Her close neighbors also became part of her extended family. A true sense of unity was attained among the group by being helpful and available to each other, as well as occasional neighborhood parties. The friendships she made were friends for life.
Chris was educated, independent, dedicated and creative. She backpacked through Europe, she built her own house. She was as comfortable shooting a gun, using a fishing pole, parachuting from an airplane and climbing a mountain as she was using a computer, a sewing machine, baking a pie or embroidering a pillow case.
She committed to every endeavor she undertook. She coached track, coached cheerleading and volunteered many hours to support all school activities while she was teaching. She loved being involved in her community and it included time spent with Special Olympics, participating in every “Walk for Life” event in Kodiak, and volunteering to help young readers at St. Mary’s School. But she was especially dedicated to her Kodiak Morning Rotary group. It was most fulfilling for her to be of service; to benefit others and causes.
Her creative side came out in her home and her hobbies. Her garden and lawn was beautiful, her home full of warmth, and her passion for mosaics and quilting left us with gifts to cherish forever. She always added a unique perspective when a group of crafter friends got together.
Chris was preceded in death by her mother, Marie McVay, and her nephew, Ryan Voermans. She is survived by her father, Pat McVay, her sisters; Marsha and Bill Voermans, Verna and Don Swanson, and Kate and Steve Tyner, her nephews and niece; Cody, Lane and Kyler Voermans, Ty, Amanda, Simon and Sydney Swanson, Brad, Ja-ay and Ella Swanson, and Holly, Tom, Mason and Kaylin Manning.
Always the educator, she helped us navigate our emotions through her illness. With bravery and resolve, she accepted the challenge to fight. She listened, researched, and followed advice with a stellar attitude. There were few tears, pity, “why me’s”, or fear. We called her courageous Chris. We still can hear her singing “I Did It My Way.”
A Celebration of Life will be held for Chris on Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Springhill Hall at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church beginning at 3:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any of Chris’s favorite organizations”
Chris McVay Scholarship fund, care of Kodiak Morning Rotary, P.O. Box 1963, Kodiak, AK 99615;
Kodiak Special Olympics, care of Dan Canavan, 610 Egan Way, Kodiak, AK 99615.
Soroptimist International Kodiak, Cancer Fund, P.O. Box 367, Kodiak, AK 99615.