[UPDATED with memorial service plans]
WASHINGTON, DC (November 13, 2015) – White House photography editor and photojournalist Rick McKay, 61, died last night at home in Vienna, VA, surrounded by his wife and children. McKay had battled non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for several years.
He is survived by his wife, former White House and magazine photography editor Carol McKay, and their adult children, Nicholas and Alexandra.
President Barack Obama today released a statement on McKay's passing:
"Rick McKay had a knack for telling a good story," the President said. "As a veteran photojournalist who became a trusted member of my team as White House Photo Editor, Rick dedicated his life to sharing the American Story through images – moments both expected and unlikely; snapshots both of epic events and everyday kindnesses.
"Last night, we lost Rick to cancer. Michelle and I send our most sincere condolences to Rick's wife, Carol, and his children, Nick and Ally. Our hearts are heavy at the White House today. But Rick's other family – his White House family – will tell our own stories, memories of Rick's kindness and humor, his passion for NASCAR, his love for his dog, Kiley, and his dedication to doing the job the right way. We thank Rick for sharing his joy and optimism through the photos that will live on through history, the stories that will live on in our hearts, and most of all, for making his time here count."
McKay was one of the original photography editors at USA Today during the newspaper's early years. He came to Washington on loan from a Gannett newspaper in Battle Creek, MI, and stayed on as staff when he was hired by photo director Mitch Koppelman. McKay was a graduate of Central Michigan University, and he was the first member of the USA Today photography department to leave the new national newspaper when he joined the Washington bureau of Cox Newspapers in 1984 to be their photographer and picture editor.
When the Cox bureau downsized in 2009, McKay joined the staff of the White House Photography Department where he has worked with Pete Souza during the Obama administration.
During one of his recent hospitalizations, Carol McKay said they put a white board up on the wall and tried to list every country he had visited and worked in on assignment during his career. The names of the many countries filled up all of the space on the board.
A memorial service for McKay will be held this Saturday, November 21, 2015, at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 2589 Chain Bridge Road, in Vienna, VA. There will be a short visitation at 5:00 p.m. and the service, which begins at 5:30 p.m., will be followed by a reception at the church. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
BELOW: President Barack Obama says goodnight to photo editor Rick McKay and departing staffers on the Colonnade after the White House staff picnic ended early due to a rain storm, June 26, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza