Pipe Major Dave McKee, Sr.
History tells us the bagpipe was played as early as the ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Today it is unquestionably recognized as an Irish and Scottish tradition. For Pipe Major Dave McKee, Sr. of the Chicago Stockyard Kilty band - bagpiping was an institution he knew had to be preserved. Big Dave was a guardian of tradition and served as pipe major of the Yards from 1975 until 2003.
For generations Mr. McKee brought people into his home to teach them so that someday (and if they were good enough) they too would play in a band; and perhaps start their own.
Our founding Pipe Major grew up surrounded by the cacophony of the wails of drones and beatings of the drums which took place every Tuesday evening in the Chicago neighborhood of Beverly;
it was always a sight and sound to behold.
Dave LOVED the music; if you asked him he would tell you --
“it is the greatest music in the world”.
Dave loved his Clan family - Mackay.
Most times you would see Dave wearing a Clan Mackay tie or cap badge in lieu of the Stockyard Kilty band logo.
On 22 August 2013, Dave McKee, Sr. was born into eternal life. On that day, the McKee family lost their patriarch and the bagpipe community lost a man who was the essence of bagpiping in bonnie Chicago.
In 2014 Wake and District created an award for instructor excellence in Dave's name. The award was presented to Joe Brady by Kitty McKee (Dave's wife) and Dave McKee, Jr. (Joe's old partner from the Chicago Police Department - and the lead tip for the Yards.) The award was presented to Timothy Hinson in 2015 and Ken McKeveny in 2017.
Awards are a nice way to remember people, but they are not LEGACY. What is woven into the lives of others -- that is legacy. We are a woven piece of fabric from all the people places and things we encounter; each one a thread.
With the permission of the McKee family and Clan Mackay, Wake and District switched from Black Stewart to Mackay Ancient in honor of Mr. McKee.
The memory of Dave McKee, Sr. will be preserved -- forever woven into the fabric
of the Wake and District family.
Why Mackay? Because, Wake and District would not exist had it not been for Dave McKee, Sr.
…it’s a hard instrument to learn, it really is. You’re going to be a part of hundreds of years of piping history and we don’t want you to let down that tradition…
Dave McKee, Sr.
A PIPER'S PRAYER
May my pipes be a gift
I will lift to the Lord.
A grace note of praise in
every lyric and chord.
May my tune be a prayer
of renewal and light.
May my tune be a beacon
which shines through the night.
And even when loss
and grief come along
I'll have faith in the Lord
and play him a TUNE.
This was Big Dave's prayer - he'd recite it before playing a tune (not a song) on his pipes.
What is a legacy?
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” - Pericles
What a powerful reminder that quote is! When we read it we thought how it could be referring to trophies and worldly accomplishments we earn in this life like awards and titles and money etc. It could also be referring to the words engraved on our tombstones when we die someday. Both of those visuals are fairly powerful when you consider the message in that quote.
While trophies and fancy words on our tombstone when we die seem nice, they are not the things that are not the things we leave behind…they are not our legacy.
Pipe Major Dave McKee Memorial Trophy
On 16 June 2018 members of Wake and District journeyed to Chicago for the third time to compete at the Midwest Pipe Band Association Scottish Games, debuting our new kilt and kit on the competition field.
We were elated to win the contest - and honored to take home the
Pipe Major Dave McKee Memorial Trophy.
In the center of the photo are Dave's sons Dave McKee, Jr. and Pipe Major Matthew McKee -- along with his daughter Moira McKee (Big Dave' granddaughter, and a piper herself).