Mary Vernice McKay Underwood thumbnail

Mary Vernice McKay Underwood

October 1, 1922 - August 7, 2020

Mary Underwood was born to Mark and Georgiann McKay of Guin, Alabama on October 1, 1922. She was one of seven children; Chloe Harris, Ruth Hughes, Troy McKay, Eunice Simmons Fiddy, Joseph McKay and Kelly McKay. She was known by various names but relatives knew her as Vernice, and her friends called her Mary.

Mark McKay was born in Marion County, AL on Februaury 20, 1886 to Barnes and Mary Jane Pyron McKay, whose ancestors were from Scotland. Mark’s grandfather, Christopher C. McKay, is buried in Old Pikeville Cemetery, AL. Mark’s great-grandfather, Norman McKay, was the first person buried in Old Liberty Cemetery, AL. Mark(affectionately known as “Papa K”) died on August 21, 1969.

Georgiann Hardin McKay, born May 15, 1886, was the daughter of Joseph and Jane Allen Hardin. Georgiann’s mother and father died within an hour of each other of pneumonia around 1892. They were placed together in a wooden coffin and transported by ox cart for burial at Old Liberty Cemetery. All seven children were taken in by other family members. Gerogiann (“Mama K”) died on March 31, 1987.

Mary Vernice McKay married Woodrow Morris Underwood on October 16, 1941, at Vernon, AL, with her sister, Chloe in attendance. His Navy career included assignments in Pensacola, FL, San Diego, CA, Oakland, CA, Chincoteague, VA, and retiring in Norfolk, VA, buying a house at 1851 Arrowwood Street, Norfolk, where Mary lived until her death. They also had a mountain cabin in Pulaski, where they spent a great deal of time. When her husband became sick, his condition was eventually diagnosed as dementia. She then dedicated herself to personally caring for him at home for approximately 9 years, until his death on July 7, 1996. She is also preceded in death by her sons; Bobby Joe (July 16, 1981), Woodrow Jr., (March 20, 2008) and Mark Donald (September 3, 2011); plus all her siblings.

Surviving Mary are Woodrow Jr.’s four children; Jill Melinda (Bob), Ossian IN, Janeen Michelle Miller (Brad), Ft. Wayne, IN; Janet Melody Bennett (Troy), The Villages, FL; Jonathan Mark Underwood (Laura), Columbia City, IN. Also surviving here are: Christie Marie Underwood, daughter of Mark Donald, Tamarac, FL, and Patricia Underwood, Norfolk, widow of Mark Donald. Nieces Billie Jean Harris, and Ruth Ann Johnson, both of Virginia Beach; Nephews: Eric C. Johnson Sr., (Alicia) , Virginia Beach; Thomas Eugene McKay (Kathleen), Dublin VA; Ernest McKay, Rocky Mt., VA; Jerry Wayne McKay (Gerri), Tupelo, MS; and Kenneth Hughes (Peggy), Odenville, AL. There are five great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild, numerous cousins, and neighborhood friends who were all special to her.

She presented herself as a gentle lady with a quiet dignity, and was a devoted Christian who found her strength in the Lord. She was an active member of the Laymen’s Home Ministries group and spent many years studying her Bible and acquired a large reference library.

Being raised in a large family on a farm instilled the habit of being cost-conscious, a trait kept forever. She worked as a beautician for awhile in Florida, but considered being a loving wife and mother her best accomplishment. She was petite, had an infectious smile, a twinkle in her eyes, a very dry wit and spunkiness. A real Steel Magnolia. Her ideas of entertainment was a good conversation, going out to eat, being with family and in contact with life-long friends. She also liked to watch golf on TV, especially when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, or Marc Leishman were playing. Several years ago, she accompanied some of her family on a trip to Scotland/Ireland, fulfilling a long-time dream. She enjoyed reminiscing about it a lot.

The family wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to Dr. Nabil Tadros; Bon Secours DePaul Hospital and ER staff; Province Place of DePaul; and Intrepid Hospice group for their services during her confinement. It is a comfort knowing she was the recipient of such excellent care by these professionals.

In accordance with Mary’s wishes there will be a visitation on Friday, August 14, from 11:00am to 11:30am at Altmeyer Funeral Homes and Crematory-Southside Chapel at 5033 Rouse Drive, Virginia Beach, followed by a service conducted by Daniel Herzig, with a reception after. Due to COVID -19, social distancing will be observed and all attendees must wear a mask.

She will then be transported to Pulaski, VA, for interment in the family plot at Shiloh Cemetery, which is located in a rustic, mountainous area with many trees. We realize COVID-19 prohibits safe travel, but for those who can attend, a brief graveside service will be conducted by Keith Worrell on Saturday, August 15, at 1:00PM. Relatives Eugene and Kathleen McKay, who live in nearby Dublin, VA, have graciously volunteered to coordinate these arrangements. Social distancing will be observed and masks should be worn.

Thus, we remember a wonderful lady who touched lives in Pulaksi and in Norfolk, both of which she loved to call home.

She went to her heavenly home on August 7, 2020.


***For all beloved guests of Mary who can not attend her funeral on August 14, click HERE to watch it live***

Service Information

Visitation Information

Date: Friday, August 14, 2020

Time: 11:00 am


Altmeyer Funeral Home - Southside Chapel

5033 Rouse Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Cemetery Information

Date: Saturday, August 15, 2020

Time: 1:00 pm

Shiloh Cemetery

3092 Lowmans Ferry Road

Pulaski, VA 24301

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What our families say...

In my opinion, there is no better facility in Virginia than Altmeyer Funeral Homes. Not only was Chris Sisler there to hold my hand every step of the way, his family members were holding the door on the day of the funeral to help and encourage me. I will never forget their grace. He led me and my family through the process as a personal friend and neighbor, and as the ultimate professional.


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