MCKINNON, Alexander Edward “Sandy”
It is with great sadness that the family of Sandy McKinnon announces his peaceful passing after a long illness, on Friday, November 16, 2018, in Leesburg, Florida, at the age of 84 years. Sandy will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 30 years, Glenda; his daughter, Sandra Shelley (Blackwell); his stepsons Kevin Howard (Deborah) and Kyle Howard (Barbara Padilla); granddaughters Madeleine Shelley, Lila Shelley and Elizabeth Howard; his former spouse, Ellie McKinnon; and his dog, Precious.
He was born in Aberdeen, Scotland to Alexander “Mac” and Louisa “Louie” Middleton McKinnon, one of five children. His siblings were Charles, June, Marlene, Lorraine. As a young man, he was an outstanding scholar and bike racer, traveling throughout Europe on a bike that he had built himself from parts that he purchased when he could afford them.
He worked for the royal upholsterer for many years, and often met Princess Margaret at the highland games. He would stand in line with the other workers who prepared the event, and she would pass by them on the red carpet. She surprised him one time by remembering his name and saying, “Hello McKinnon.”
Some of his special memories during this time include dancing to big band music at the Beach Ballroom; attending a show led by uncle Eddie Middleton, a colorful band leader who went by the name of Eddie “Tash” Mendoza (and his Rumba Band); and going to door to door greeting friends and celebrating the New Year on Hogmanay.
Yet, he grew up in a very difficult time, one of great poverty, rations, World War II air raids of his city, and one in which it was nearly impossible to move beyond your station in life. Determined to make a better life for himself, he moved to Toronto, Canada, and began working as a salesman for Gorries, a Chevrolet dealership, where he met Ellie and worked with many of her family members as well. At first, his heavy brogue was difficult for customers to understand, but he soon became the top salesman. Many often remarked that he looked like the actor, Rod Taylor.
He was an outstanding and hard-working salesman and was recruited to work at Mossy Oldsmobile in Houston, moving there with his family in 1971. Over the years, he worked for different dealerships, often as general manager, including those in Newport Beach, Calif.; New Haven, Conn.; then back to Houston. At the dealership in California, where he worked for 16 months, he was named Salesman of the Month 15 times. On the month he missed, his sales were off due to a vacation. He ended his career in management for Westside Lexus.
He met Glenda Howard in Houston, and they married in 1988. Together, they enjoyed going dancing, gardening and traveling. Their journeys took them to Mexico, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal and Europe. One special memory he had was arriving to the coast of Venice, Italy, standing on the deck with Glenda, as the cruise ship speakers blasted the soaring voices of the Three Tenors. Another time, he and Glenda were greeted by a flight of butterflies on a cruise ship arriving on a beautiful sunny day in Cozumel. He was also a talented chef, especially revered for his garlic chicken and prime rib. He and Glenda built a home in Royal Highlands, in Leesburg, Florida and moved there in 2004. He enjoyed playing golf, a lifelong passion, on the course in his neighborhood. In his earlier years, he once held a handicap of 0.
He was a devoted father and grandfather, who delighted in playing games and teasing his granddaughters. When his daughter was younger, he often took her to church, then lunch following at Las Alamedas Mexican Restaurant in Houston, where he enjoyed the mariachis. He liked to sprinkle a little Spanish into his speech, often saying “sí” instead of “yes.” His great zest for life was apparent whenever he encountered people. Once, a man approached him in Maui, and said he and his wife had a bet going—Was he the actor Rod Taylor? Sensing the man’s excitement, and not wanting to disappoint him, he said, “Yes, I am,” and shook his hand.
He loved Royal Highlands and could not believe his fortune to live in such a beautiful place. Although many years has passed since he returned to his country of birth, he never forgot it. Every New Year’s Eve, he would turn towards Scotland and raise a drink in a toast to Hogmanay.
A memorial service will be held in his honor on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at 3 p.m. in the Meeting Room of the Royal Highlands Recreation Center with John Duggan, Minister, officiating. All friends are welcome to attend. An additional memorial service will be held in Richmond, Virginia, on Dec. 21, 2018, followed by later interment. The family is grateful to the loving care extended to Sandy in his illness by the staff of Avante at Leesburg and Cornerstone Hospice. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: Cornerstone Hospice Clermont, Florida or charity of choice.
5350 Monarch Blvd, Leesburg, FL 34748