Jane E. McKay ’81

Jane E. McKay ’81, trustee emerita, died on March 19, 2018.

(The following notice was shared by President Rose on March 24, 2018)

To the Bowdoin community,

We learned the very sad news this week that Trustee Emerita Jane Ellen McKay died on Monday, March 19, 2018, at the age of fifty-eight. Her family has let us know that the cause of death was Jane’s ongoing battle with alcoholism and type 1 diabetes, information that Jane specifically wanted included in her obituary.

Jane was born in Houlton, Maine, on September 15, 1959, to Joseph H. ’42 and Pauline G. McKay. She attended public schools in Houlton before graduating from Hebron Academy in 1977. That fall she matriculated at Bowdoin, beginning a deep association with the College that would last for the rest of her life. Jane majored in history, joined Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and earned varsity letters in lacrosse and field hockey.

She taught history and served as assistant director of admissions at the Gunnery School in Washington, Connecticut, before returning to Maine in 1986 to start her family. She held jobs at both the Brunswick Times Record and at L.L. Bean, where she worked on corporate accounts and also made several appearances as a model in the company catalogue.

Jane served the College in many important roles, including as the Alumni Council representative to the Commission on Residential Life (1996-1997) and as a member of the Presidential Search Committee that recommended Barry Mills as Bowdoin’s fourteenth president (2000-2001). She was elected to the board of trustees in 1997, and over the years, she served on more than a dozen trustee committees. She was also an associate class agent, an admissions application reader (1992-2013), a member of the Leadership Gift Committee (2005-2006), and a member of the Reunion Gift Committee (2010-2011). In 2001, Jane also served as a temporary assistant director of donor relations at the College. She was elected trustee emerita in 2007.

All the while, Jane was also tremendously devoted to the Brunswick and Portland communities. She served as board president at Curtis Memorial Library; as a member of the board at the Jeremiah Cromwell Disabilities Center of Portland, Maine (now the Cromwell Center for Disabilities Awareness); as a director of the Portland Pirates Foundation Inc.; as a corporator at Mid Coast Hospital and as a member of the Friends of Mid Coast Hospital; as a director of the Mid Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross; and as a volunteer at Brunswick’s Jordan Acres School.

Jane also served on the board of Spring Harbor Hospital, and in recent years, she had become increasingly involved in the fight to cure juvenile diabetes and to support others struggling with addiction.

Those who knew Jane will remember her love of athletics. She was a regular presence on campus cheering on the Polar Bears, especially when her daughter, Lucy Morrell (Class of 2013), was on the soccer field. A mom first, she was able to root with the same enthusiasm for Williams soccer, with her son, Peter Morrell, tending goal for the Ephs. Jane and Lucy were among the six Bowdoin mother-daughter combinations featured in the winter 2015 issue of Bowdoin Magazine in the article, “Like Mother, Like Daughter.”

An athlete herself, Jane enjoyed golf, tennis, and skiing. She was also known as a terrific cook, and she loved spending time outdoors on Casco Bay and at Nickerson Lake in her hometown of Houlton.

Jane is survived by her daughter, Lucy, and her son, Peter, of Brunswick, Maine, as well as by her brother, M. Bruce McKay (Phoebe) of Buffalo, New York, her sister, Martha M. Novis (David) of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and her aunt, Francis Grant, of Houlton, Maine. She leaves many beloved nieces and nephews (including Luke McKay ’07, Micah McKay ’09, Elizabeth Wilcosky Lee ’10, and Elizabeth’s spouse, Eric Lee ’08), grandnieces and grandnephews, and close friends. She is also survived by her former husband, William D. Morrell, and in-laws, Robert L. ’47 and Nancy K. Morrell of Brunswick, Maine.

There will be a gathering to celebrate Jane’s life on March 30, 2018, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Portland Country Club, 11 Foreside Road, Falmouth, Maine. Remembrances will be shared at 12:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions supporting Jane’s legacy be directed to Spring Harbor Hospital, 123 Andover Road, Westbrook, Maine 04092.

Julianne and I had the great good fortune to come to know Jane a bit over the past couple of years, and we witnessed firsthand her deep love for Bowdoin and for the many people connected to her time here as a student, trustee, and parent. We are deeply grateful for her commitment to the College, and we join all of you in extending heartfelt sympathies to her children, Lucy and Peter, and to the rest of Jane’s family and many friends.




For more, please see the obituary in the Portland Press Herald, March 25, 2018.

1 Comment Jane E. McKay ’81


    I went to Bowdoin in the mid-sixties. Upon the orientation of the Foreign Student Adviser, Mr. Phillip Wilder, I joined the Big Brother-Little Brother program. My little brother at the time, William Morrell, became Jane’s husband on September 6th, 1986. They were happily married for over twenty years. Back in 2007, I had the pleasure of welcoming the whole family, Jane, Bill, Lucy, and Peter to our home in Brazil. Needless to say we had a wonderful time here. In addition I visited Maine many times between 1986 and 2007. I always enjoyed their company and appreciated the way she raised her kids and socialized with the College community. Jane was a remarkable lady and I will love her forever.


Add a Reminiscence:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *