Dr. Katherine McKay

Obituary of Dr. Katherine McKay

Dr. Katherine Marie McKay, 53, of St. Petersburg, FL, died on November 5th, 2022, at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. She is survived by her husband Byron Cohen, her daughter Kaitlin McKay-Cohen, her mother Kathleen McKay, her father Vincent McKay, and stepmother Marcia McKay. She also leaves behind siblings, Richard McKay, Bridgette Thompson and Novia McKay and numerous sibling-like cousins. 


She was born in Kingston, Jamaica on December 17th, 1968, and moved to Brooklyn, NY at the age of 10 yrs. old. Katherine was a product of New York City's public school system. Initially, Katherine wanted to be a clothing designer, but after taking a psychology class in high school, her life's trajectory was forever changed. 


She earned her associates degree from New York City Technical College in Brooklyn, NY, her bachelor's degree in psychology from Brooklyn College, and both her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology from Adelphi University in New York. Katherine earned additional professional qualifications, including EMDR and EFT certifications.  


Katherine had an innate ability to understand and connect concepts in ways that others may not have seen. She was inquisitive and possessed an admirable work ethic. When she was committed to achieving something, she would put her all into it – and she expected the same from those around her.  


Katherine enjoyed branching out professionally and worked with diverse groups and demographics over the course of her career. From running New York City’s only rape crisis hotline in the 1990s, (according to a New York Times article), to working with U.S. Military Veterans, with First Responders,  executives and organizational leaders through the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College, her private practice where she worked with individuals and couples, and even working with The Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Katherine was always in pursuit of becoming a better clinician in order to maximize the positive impact she could have on the lives of others. 


Katherine was a family woman. She was completely dedicated to her partner and husband Byron Cohen, whom she had been with for 35 years, and focused like a laser on her greatest love, their daughter, Kaitlin McKay-Cohen. Her love for her and her pride in her were so great that she often said, “If something were to happen to her, I would not be able to breathe.”  Katherine prayed for her daily and maintained the greatest hopes for Kaitlin. She took great delight in her accomplishments. Kaitlin’s independent personality at 2 yrs. old, her completion of the rigorous International Baccalaureate high school program, her acceptance at university, her well-advanced communication skills, and ability to analyze tricky situations and think quickly on her feet, and her desire to focus her future professional life towards making a difference in the world for others are all glaring examples of the positive impact her mother has had on her life.  


Katherine was extremely close and dedicated to her parents. She was always thankful for her mother’s sacrifices, made to provide her with more opportunities. She enjoyed spending time with her father,  and frequently traveled to Jamaica and Orlando to do so. She had a wonderful relationship with her stepmother, whom she lovingly referred to as “Mom Marcia. 


She had an extraordinarily strong bond with her sisters and cared deeply for her brother. It is impossible to remember a time in recent years when these ladies getting together was not an absolute love fest, with each showing a great amount of admiration and respect for the others. Katherine had a special place in her heart for her young nephew, Caleb.  


Katherine’s numerous cousins were more like brothers and sisters. Her cousin Ryan was one of her great joys in life, and the closest thing she had to a son. She loved him with all she had.


Katherine lived her life as many could only wish to – joyfully and filled with love. She enjoyed spending time with friends, and she established deep, life-long relationships with them. She was always available for a friend in need and was like a 2nd mother for some of their children. She could be approached for advice and direction when one did not necessarily want to go to their mother. And their mothers were just as likely to send them to Aunty Katherine when sage advice was not being heeded.  


Like most other things in her life, Katherine approached play with a sense of wonder, love, and passion. Katherine loved music and took voice lessons in later years to sharpen her ability. She loved to travel, especially to island paradises and did so frequently with family and friends. From the South Pacific to The Caribbean, Europe, and Northern Africa, she traveled widely. She enjoyed the comforts of higher-end travel but was not afraid of a less comfortable trip if it meant getting a better sense of a culture. Her trip to Cuba was a prime example of this. In addition to her understandable love of Jamaica and the countless trips taken there, she fell in love with Turks and Caicos. Her second most frequently visited destination, she established many friendships and even had a “home church,” where she was actively prayed for during her illness. 


Katherine fully understood the need for down-time and when she needed it, she sought it with zeal. Nobody was driven to find an empty beach to relax and do nothing on like Katherine. And in an hour or two she would be in the water and ready to snorkel for the same amount of time.  


Katherine was a devoted believer in Jesus Christ and His power to save and redeem. She lived her life as an example of His love. She spent the majority of 2022 leading a Zoom Bible Study group every Sunday. Even when feeling terribly ill and weak, she insisted on attending and leading. The time spent in the group always energized her and lifted her spirit. She shared great insights and just as in her professional life, was always seeking insights from others.  


Like Katherine, many of her friends were successful and driven women. But Katherine was not a person who restricted her friendship to any class, religion, race, accomplishment level or any other things that we frequently use to create boxes. Katherine chose her friends based on their hearts.  


Katherine lived a life of joy and focused on her passions and the needs of others. Dr. Katherine McKay was a brilliant woman, a loving woman, a Spirit-filled woman, and a humble woman. Her life was a blessing to all those who had the privilege of knowing and loving her. She is now with The Lord and no doubt has already heard those words that all followers of Christ ultimately long to hear. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21 KJV 



Please make a donation in Katherine's honor to:

Champions Can! Foundation for Cancer Wellness, Inc. 



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