Cover photo for Sara Hayden McKay's Obituary
Sara Hayden McKay Profile Photo
1940 Sara 2019

Sara Hayden McKay

April 10, 1940 — October 22, 2019

Sara Hayden McKay passed peacefully on October 22, 2019 after a stroke stopped her when nothing else could.  She now sings in the heavenly choir, which has been her lifelong dream – along with meeting Mozart.  Many of you may assume she is directing the choir, and you would probably be right!  Step aside, Handel.


Her life’s passion was to bring great works of choral music to local audiences and to make jams and pies and shortbread cookies to thank people for their support!  She would be making a lot of jam now to thank all of you who have been so supportive during this time!    


Sara grew up the eldest of five wonderful sisters who sang together in harmony and were even featured on the television show, “I’ve Got a Secret.”  John McKay met Sara when she lived in Montreal for a year with her family, and he asked to carry her books down the hill from school (he was in 8th grade, she was in 7th.)  Later, he saw her on a bus, and noticed that she thanked the driver as she got off.  He vowed to do that from then on.  That was also the only year he got 2nd place in the citywide talent contest when a group of sisters dressed alike, singing in harmony won 1st place!  They re-met when they both attended McGill University.  Sara said when she heard John play the piano, the heavens opened, and she saw the stars and planets circling in harmony and knew their lives were to be intertwined. 


Originally from Nova Scotia, it’s no wonder one of her favorite places was Harmony Lake, where her family had a cabin.  Sara lived in many places but was so happy to arrive in Saint Peter, MN in 1976.  She loved this community and co-founded the Saint Peter Choral Society in 1979.  She taught music for 22 years in Arlington exposing children to opera, classical composers, and Broadway musicals.  She was a favorite adjudicator of music competitions at the high school level and kept everyone in stiches with her stories.  Sara and John are being inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame on November 1st, 2019.


John and Sara were married for 55 years.  They shared a love of the arts and highly recommend attending the live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera at Cinemark in Mankato!  They spent their honeymoon at Stratford, Ontario seeing Shakespeare and spent many a summer vacation driving to Shakespeare festivals in Winona, MN and Spring Green, Wisconsin.  They lived together in Brussels, Belgium for five years where Sara sang in an elite choir which toured Europe.  Sara is survived by her husband, John and their three children, Johanna, Murray and Elizabeth who have enjoyed many a fabulous birthday party where Sara had the young guests sing Nova Scotian folk songs such as “The Tune the Old Cow Died On”, and played games like “Broom Dance” and “Magic Spot on the Floor.”  Heaven has her now and she will be waiting for each of us with arms outstretched – with a folder full of music.


Memorials preferred to the family or Saint Peter Choral Society, In Defense of Animals, Friends of the Earth, St. Joseph’s Indian School, Tiger Preservation Center, Center for Biological Diversity, National Research Defense Council, Union Presbyterian Hymn Fest.


Sara's memorial service will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 29th, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. in First Lutheran Church, 1114 West Traverse Road, St. Peter, Rev. Steve Boots presiding. It will be followed by a reception in the Church hall, with light refreshments.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sara Hayden McKay, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Starts at 5:30 pm (Central time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 72

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree