Frances McKay

Obituary of Frances Elizebeth McKay

Obituary – Frances Elizabeth (Bess) Tindall McKay


Frances Elizabeth (Bess) Tindall McKay, age 99, passed away Thursday, April 20, 2023. She was born December 19, 1923, to Chester and Leota (Herron) Tindall. The youngest of 6 children, she grew up in Grasmere, Idaho, on the ranch her grandparents homesteaded. 

            Bess met and fell in love with her future husband, Don McKay, a young buckaroo working on a neighboring ranch when she was 16. They were married on January 20, 1944, in Elko, Nevada, while Don was on furlough from the army during WWII. Don left six months after the wedding to go overseas, and Bess taught school in Mountain City, Nevada, for two years while he was away.

            When Don returned, they worked for a time on the Tindall family ranch, and in the winter of  1948, they purchased a place of their own and moved to Pleasant Valley, Idaho, near Jordan Valley. Upon their arrival at their new home, they met one of the coldest and harshest winters the valley had ever encountered and still remembers as ‘one for the books.’ Bess often spoke of hunting rabbits for meat, among countless other tasks she faced to survive those first few months of their new life together. This would begin a life of hardships, blessings, sorrows, and joys as Bess and Don built the ranch and raised a large family. They had ten children: Dennis, Deanna, Mary, Kathleen, Teresa, Pat, Rita, Molly, Neil, and a little boy named Joseph, who passed away shortly after birth.

Bess put on a little lipstick and a dress every morning for most of the early years, preparing for a typical day of tending to laundry, cooking, gardening, canning, cleaning, crafting, and sewing. Her wildly diverse job description further included grittier skills, such as killing many a rattlesnake with a shovel and shooting pheasants out of the kitchen window for supper. A bit of an expert marksman, she once shot a bobcat out of a tree in the yard and always came home with turkeys from the annual Catholic turkey shoot.

            Creative is an understatement when describing this wondrous lady. Bess painted walls to look like brick or wallpaper, reupholstered furniture, made wedding cakes, sewed bridesmaids’ dresses, and grew and arranged bouquets of fresh and dried flowers for friends, family, and the community. For years she decorated the local Catholic church with her blooms, weekly and seasonally. She made homemade butter, cottage cheese, venison jerky, caramels, and fruitcakes, becoming a master of utilizing whatever she had access to in providing for those around her, with a flair for dressing it up as she went. A few weeks before her passing, daughter Kathleen shared this long list of talents and accomplishments with Bess, to which she replied, “Whoop-de-do.”

            In 1984, Don and Bess sold the ranch and moved to an acreage near Caldwell. While it initially felt ‘big city’ and somewhat frightening to Bess, she flourished, embarking on piano lessons, hosting gatherings, and immersing in various Christian ministries. Don passed away in 1998, and within a few years, she moved into town, where she could stay in her own home until August 2022. Her greatest joy was her relationship with the Lord and involvement with church friends and activities.

Bess is survived by son, Dennis McKay; daughter, Deanna Stringer; daughter, Mary Arritola; daughter, Kathleen McKay; son, Pat (Tonia) McKay; daughter, Rita McKay; daughter, Molly (Blaine) Lilly; son, Neil McKay; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by husband, Don; daughter, Teresa; infant son, Joseph; son-in-law, Dan Arritola; parents, Chester and Leota Tindall; siblings, Bill (Margaret) Tindall; Ethel Brace; Chet (Jessie) Tindall; Bob (Lillian) Tindall; and Jim (Jessie) Tindall.

            The family would like to thank Bess’ children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren for taking such a huge part in caring for her these last 15 years and helping keep her in her home for so long. Many thanks to the wonderful caretakers from Keystone Hospice and Harbor Assisted Living.

            A funeral service will be held in Bess’ honor at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 29, at Flahiff Funeral Chapel – 624 Cleveland Blvd, Caldwell, ID. A dinner will follow from 1-3:30 p.m. at the Homedale Basque Center – 333 S Main St, Homedale, ID.



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5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Friday, April 28, 2023
Flahiff Funeral Chapel
624 Cleveland Blvd
Caldwell, Idaho, United States


11:00 am
Saturday, April 29, 2023
Flahiff Funeral Chapel
624 Cleveland Blvd
Caldwell, Idaho, United States


11:00 am
Monday, May 1, 2023
Morris Hill Cemetery
317 N Latah Street
Boise, Idaho, United States
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