Obituary of Arthur H. McInroy
Arthur H. McInroy
Arthur Hubert McInroy was born on October 6, 1929 in Metilene, Washington to Arthur Raymond McInroy and Mary Helen Wilson (later known as Mary Elizabeth Baillee), both of whom had emigrated from Canada. Art’s early years were spent in Dixie, Idaho (now almost a ghost town) where he attended school in a one room schoolhouse, his father searched for gold and his mother dealt with an outhouse and a well inside the kitchen floor. Art was the 4th of five children. Family stories included tales of shootouts in the street, illegal venison being shared with the gamekeeper during the Great Depression, Grandpa Art snowshoeing miles to obtain fresh oranges for Santa’s gift to the children at Christmas, and the famous poem Art and his sisters wrote about the time Grandma Mary fell in the well (below).
Art’s family moved to Clarkston, Washington near the end of his elementary school days. In Clarkston he received his first eye exam and reading glasses. He was delighted to be able to read the classroom chalkboard. While Art met his wife Maureen O’Halloran during middle school and they walked together at high school graduation, they didn’t date until college. Art was the valedictorian of the 1947 class at Clarkston High School. During those years he worked at whatever business his father was pursuing - always for free. He remembered hard work drilling water wells and tried to forget the chore of butchering the family rabbits. At one point his father had a hangar and five airplanes and Art was a licensed pilot by the age of 17.
Art attended Washington State University at Pullman (the only one of his siblings to attend college) and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. He boxed featherweight while at college and in his words played “too much bridge”. A member of the Air Force ROTC, Art went on active duty upon graduation in 1951. He was posted to the Seattle area for meteorology school. Art married Maureen on September 21, 1951 while technically “AWOL” or on unexcused leave from the Air Force. With his commander’s permission he sneaked home to marry Maureen and then drove back to Seattle with his bride for what in later years he described as a one year honeymoon. The family folklore was that Art married Maureen for her 1934 Ford (which promptly broke down on the drive back to Seattle) and that Maureen, an only child, married Art for his four siblings.
In Seattle Maureen worked at the public library and Art ended up spending many months hospitalized with crippling rheumatoid arthritis. Out of sheer boredom he learned to knit while hospitalized. Shortly after the birth of their first child Art was posted to South Korea for a year (just after the formal end of the Korean War) and Maureen and baby Valarie moved home to Clarkston. Art could not be a pilot in the Air Force due to his poor eyesight, but he often piloted or co-piloted planes in Korea, going up as often as he could, even ferrying Army generals around the country. He thought Korea was a beautiful country and said his meteorology duties were easy because the forecast was always the same: “overcast with a chance of monsoon”. He was disappointed on his return from Korea to find his one year old daughter would dutifully kiss his framed photograph goodnight but was frightened of him.
Art worked for General Electric Company after his Air Force stint, spending his entire career with GE. At first he was on rotating 3 month assignments along the East Coast and Michigan. In the mid-1950’s he was posted to the Motor Plant in San Jose (the ideal climate appealed to the meteorologist in him) where he worked until he retired. He consulted for GE for several years after retirement to provide his expertise on vertical pump motors, traveling to Brazil and Scotland. Art was a well liked manager and when the shop workers went on strike management asked Art to drive across the picket line to see if violence would ensue. Luckily it did not. A devoted family man, Art later turned down an assignment to Spain with GE because it would involve sending his children away to boarding school. He was not comfortable with the idea of letting others “raise” his children.
Art believed in working hard and playing hard. During the early years in San Jose he and Maureen joined golf and bowling leagues and the MerryWeds dance club in addition to playing bridge. He and Maureen loved to dance and remained active members of the dance club for more than 60 years, continuing the ballroom dancing tradition once they moved out to The Villages in San Jose following Art’s retirement. They were often the first on the dance floor and the last to leave. They visited Yosemite each year with the dance club and traveled to Europe, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and enjoyed a cruise or two.
Art was a bit of a workaholic before the term was fashionable. He worked long hours at GE and often went up to his home office to work additional hours late in the evening. He would come home from work and pour one beer (Olympia in those days) into a glass, sit in his recliner and read the newspaper before dinner.
Despite not having many tools, Art was a “do it yourselfer”. He painted the family home on Kilo Drive and laid brick walkways and patios and built a covered terrace. He even rebuilt the engine of one of his (almost always) used cars all by himself with only a few tools.
Every other summer Dad would drive the family home to Clarkston, Washington to visit the relatives. We kids would drive him nuts by asking “are we closer to Grandma’s house or home” before we even got to Oakland on old Highway 17. His patient response was to tell us to wait until day 2 of the trip to pose that question.
On the “off” summers, we’d do family vacations like a trip to Disneyland, rent a houseboat on the Sacramento delta or camp at Mount Lassen or Yosemite. At first it was tent camping, then a tent trailer and eventually a 16’ old trailer (which today would be very retro chic). One memorable March trip to the Grand Canyon we woke to 2 feet of unexpected snow outside the trailer. We played lots of cards, all used Art’s galoshes for trips to the restroom while Art worried about getting home safely. Art was not an enthusiastic fisherman as he had fished for meals when he was a youngster, but he taught each child to fish - which meant you bait your own hook and take your own fish off the hook if you landed one.
Art was a big fan of all forms of sport. He watched every tennis and golf match he could on TV. Art even took family garage ping pong games seriously and there were no “Mulligans” when golfing with Art.
A devoted father, Art played hours and hours of catch and “pickle” with us in the front yard, hit grounders for fielding practice, eventually coaching Brad’s Little League teams, volunteering as an umpire and helping out with Valarie and Tammy’s softball teams. Maureen often kept score. Those were busy Saturdays with games in three different locations.
Art always tried to encourage and support his children’s interests. Valarie was provided dance and piano lessons. Brad’s minibikes and motorcycles came and went. Tammy had a horse she bought with a friend and while totally out of his element in the equestrian environment Art would rent a horse trailer to take them and their horse to participate in competitions. Art would sometimes buy Tammy’s FFA steer at the county fair to help support her interests and very occasionally feed the cow, pig or nanny goat within Tammy’s care.
Art’s father-in-law was an enthusiastic and talented skier and Art cooperated in Grandpa Lee’s plan to teach his grandchildren to ski, meeting Grandpa and Grandma Harrod at Lake Tahoe. Art would have to rent gear for the whole family, load us all in, put chains on the car to get up into the Sierras. Art helped his children progress to Stem Christies and then parallel turns as he taught himself to advance. In hindsight it is clear these glorious trips were a lot of work for Art. However, his three children all caught the ski bug. He later let Brad borrow the Buick Electra 222 to go skiing with buddies. Maureen especially loved to ski and Art was a dedicated enabler, bringing Maureen to Brad’s cabin at Tahoe or up to Valarie’s cabin on Highway 4 long after he quit skiing. Art’s efforts paid off as the entire family skis: Brad and his family are expert and dedicated skiers and Tammy served as ski patrol for a time. Art skied into his 70’s but quit when minor injuries jeopardized his beloved tennis. Art competed on several tennis teams out at The Villages, playing 4.0 USTA doubles tennis into his 80’s. He helped design the tennis court viewing pavilion at the Villages (with complicated engineering calculations and drawings) and researched and purchased a ball machine for the team. He was a very good player and loved playing with the many friends he and Maureen met at the Villages. He also always enjoyed playing with and coaching the local high school tennis players to whom the tennis team provided scholarships.
Art taught each of his children to drive in the Gemco parking lot (on Sundays when it was empty) with incredible patience and insisted each new driver know how to change a flat tire and change the oil. The children also had chores in exchange for a small allowance. There was a written chore chart with extra chores that brought additional money. If the children broke a rule, they might find themselves polishing his shoes for work without payment. He set up the Bank of McInroy, complete with little bank books showing deposits, withdrawals and interest earned. This bank paid double the going interest rate to teach his children the value of saving money.
One day while working in the backyard, Art, a natural athlete, was asked by son Brad (while Brad was in elementary school) to prove to his buddies that Art could do a backflip. Brad had been bragging about his father. Art said sure, asked Brad to hold his shovel, did a backflip right there on the spot, took the shovel back and proceeded to get back to work like it was no big deal.
Art and Maureen were active in the Almaden Hills United Methodist Church in San Jose where Art served as lay leader and Maureen as president of the United Methodist Women. Art rarely, rarely cussed and it was not allowed in his household. If someone said “God” out loud it better be followed by “bless America”. After the youngest Tammy went off to college at Cal Poly, Art and Maureen left the church (but kept in touch with many dear friends), joined a sports club and began, in Art’s words, to worship “the devil tennis ball”. They enjoyed their years at the Almaden Hills Athletic Club, honing their tennis skills.
Art was serious and strict. It was his duty to scare boys/young men who came to pick up his daughters for dates. If a child brought home an A- on a report card, he would ask why they didn’t earn an A. Art was a voracious reader and he believed in studying and doing your best. He raised his children with the expectation that they would each attend and graduate from college. When he was young he would say he was going to pay for 6 years of college - 4 for his son Brad, and 1 year each for his daughters to get their “Mrs.” Thankfully Art’s tune changed and he became a pretty staunch feminist, wanting his daughters to have every opportunity. When Valarie was in 6th grade, it was Art who instigated her running a write-in campaign for class president when she came home from school and reported that 2 boys had been nominated to become school president. Art asked her why no girls were running and proceeded to explain what a write-in ballot was and supported her request to meet with the school principal to obtain clearance to run as a candidate in the election.
Art was compassionate and had a softer side and over the years Art mellowed and changed with the times. Valarie called home from an out of state pay phone booth when she was in college in tears saying she didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up and Art laughed, reassured her and sweetly said “I am nearly 50 and I don’t know either!” When high schooler Brad was hungover he simply told Maureen that Brad was ill and wouldn’t be able to attend school or go to his after school part-time job. And years later when he and Maureen attended a party at the home of a church friend and saw the couple’s child who had transitioned from male to female, Art’s only comment about it was that the child “looked pretty good”.
Art was known for being extremely frugal or “Scotch” (his word). He gleefully served Charles Shaw wine which he called “2 buck chuck”. And when he built a new deck at the Tonino Drive house he counted how many nails would be needed and bought exactly that many. His son-in-law remembers hammering out bent nails to finish the project. Art always tracked how many miles per gallon his cars obtained, reveling in the answer with his hybrid sedan that he bought to “help save the planet for my grandchildren”.
An early adopter of the computer, Art owned an Osbourne (which should now be in a computer museum), took programming classes and bought a joystick so his eldest grandson could run Flight Simulator on his computer. He remained computer and tech savvy for many decades.
Art was always game for any family outing or project. He was polite and supportive when Valarie and her husband bought an old home in Mountain View that should have been bulldozed. A man who always bought new homes and owned only one hammer and one handsaw, Art didn’t flinch. He just looked around, grabbed his work gloves and said “well, we better get to work”. He would help out at Valarie and Rick’s cabin too, shoveling snow, splitting wood, painting the garage interior with Maureen in sub freezing temperatures, and more recently “verticalizing” daffodil bulbs. Art claimed to be a “bah humbug” about Christmas but each Thanksgiving he would participate in the tree hunt and then spend hours in the cold “building” a perfect live tree by drilling holes into the trunk and whittling and inserting extra branches. Into his late 80’s Art eagerly went snowshoeing with his grandchildren and would even dive for an overthrown football.
Art lived in San Jose, yet he tried to help support his parents as they aged (who had the benefit of daughters Shirlene and Laurel nearby in Clarkston) and was very dedicated to helping his mother-in-law Milly (also in Clarkston) whose only child Maureen lived in California. Later when his beloved wife Maureen developed dementia, Art was a loving and very devoted caregiver. He set a wonderful example for being a loving partner. Some family members and friends have adopted Art’s favorite cue for leaving a party or other social situation: Art would bring Maureen her coat and purse, put an arm around her shoulders or waist, give a big smile and say “tell them you had a good time, dear”.
The last 3.5 years of Art’s life were spent at Atria Sunnyvale in a memory care unit. The transition was difficult at first for a very independent Art who believed he was on a business trip and staying in a hotel. He was always expecting faxes, worried about shipping units and sometimes called the facility’s caregivers together for a “staff meeting”. The caregivers liked Art because he was kind, polite, respectful and cooperative and they were incredibly compassionate as they guided him on his final journey with inoperable cancer and dementia. Art passed peacefully on June 3, 2021 surrounded by family. For Art the dementia fortuitously seemed to make Art sweeter and more appreciative of the people in his life. It did not, however, dim his wit.
Art was preceded in death by his parents Arthur and Mary McInroy, his beloved wife of 61 years Maureen, his older sister Laurel and older brother Alec. He is survived by sister Viola Cram of Missoula, Montana and Shirlene Jutte of Clarkston, Washington, many nieces and nephews, his three children Valarie (Rick Arnesen), Bradley (Sherri) McInroy, Tammy (Jerald) Holloway, and five grandchildren: CJ Arnesen, Kiley McInroy, Kevin McInroy, Tyler (Kindall) Holloway and Colton Holloway, and great granddaughter Paizelee Holloway. A family memorial will be held August 14. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to Alzheimer’s/dementia research or cancer research.
Mama Falling in the Well
One night as we were reading
We heard a women yell
We rushed into the kitchen
To find Mom was in the well.
As we were sadly waiting
For Mom to come on top
We heard a funny bubble
And up her head did pop.
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