Tom McKay: The Man, The Myth, The Beard

Tom McKay’s beard may scream ZZ Top (Have Mercy), but anyone who knows him knows better.

McKay, who has produced detailed, informative and creative awarding-winning art for The Denver Post since 1997, has decided to move on.

Steve McMillan’s “We Already
Miss You Tom” Top-10 List

10. He’s the only guy in the building who actually understands the inscrutable process of posting an eBook to the Apple iTunes store.

9. How many people do you know who have a crop circle in their backyard?

8. The guy probably reads a hundred books a year — and introduced me to the work of author Annie Proulx.

7. He gets your graphic right. Not just most of the time, every time.

6. Over 16 years of working with him, he only got mad at me once. (And I’m a guy who has generously been described as a “real pain in the ass” by other members of the design/graphics team.)

5. He buys me lunch every other month — and usually at the expensive restaurants.

4. On the good guy/gal list at The Post there is (was) only one person that topped him: His wife Barb, our former librarian, who, by the way, never got mad at me!

3. He wrote the script to our zany “dudes on skis” skit explaining how we put together the Colorado Ski Guide eBook after we won a coveted DFMie award.

2. For the big excitement on his vacation, he took his nephew to the American Ninja Warrior competition in Civic Center Park. Yes, he really likes that stuff.

1. One time he showed me a video recorded from the Jumbotron at Coors Field during a Rockies game of him dancing wildly in the aisle with his beard swinging in the wind and his hands in the air. Who would have known!

“Life is too short not to do the things you really want to do,” McKay said.

McKay plans to partner with his wife, Barbara Hudson, who was laid off from the Post library this past fall, and the pair will create “kinetic art.”

The Post’s loss will be the art world’s gain.

As a graphic artist McKay worked with numerous editors and reporters in all departments, said Steve McMillan, an editor with the Post.

ThomasMcKayMug_115McKay created all sorts of informative packages, “everything from stock tables to Business page centerpacks.” Recently, McKay led the charge on The Denver Post eBook initiative as well as the Post Ski app. “Tom’s departure is a huge loss for the The Denver Post on so many levels,” McMillan said.

Fellow Post artist Maureen Scance describes McKay’s illustrations as “offbeat, whimsical and unique with a touch of sweet.”

McKay was always willing to share knowledge and expertise as newspaper art morphed from “drawing boards and rapidographs and french curves and exacto knives to computer screens.”

Scance describes McKay as a “technologically gifted programmer and patient teacher.” “How I will miss his beloved bearded mug!”

Beyond his illustrious work at The Denver Post, McKay stamped his mark on the Denver Newspaper Guild. Over the years he held several Guild positions, including treasurer and newsroom unit chair. He was an instrumental member of the contract bargaining team who brought keen work-related insight to the table, as well as passion and flexibility.

“The best union leader is a person who is respected by management and their peers for the job they do as an employee and the work they do for the union,” said Tony Mulligan, administrative officer of the Guild. “Tom is respected and trusted by all.”

Missy Miller, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at the Post, sat across the bargaining table from McKay.

She describes her association with him as an “extreme pleasure.”

“As a union leader, he always represented his people well, while also recognizing what we were trying to accomplish as a company, and worked to bridge any gaps between those perspectives,” Miller said. “Always a pro, he could share a laugh or pound the table — whatever the moment called for.”

McKay — and his infamous beard — will be missed by many at the Post and the Guild.

Tall and slender, fluid in movement and quick in wit, McKay may slightly resemble Billy Gibbons (McKay is better looking), the ZZ Top, Texas rocker, but his demeanor and style are more Gary Cooper, classic Hollywood. Noted for a stoic, understated style, McKay found great success in his work. He earned great admiration from his colleagues and readers.

The Guild wishes Tom the best of luck. We look forward to viewing the art he plans to create, and just hope we’ll be able to afford a masterpiece. We know he’ll set the art world ablaze.


Tom’s Life: The Condensed Version

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