John William Macy died on August 22 on Martha’s Vineyard. He was 70.

He was born in 1953 in Santa Barbara, Calif. to Eliot (Bud) Eldridge Macy and Susan Hyde Macy. He was the youngest of five children. His parents met on Martha’s Vineyard. Most summers the family would make the cross-country drive to enjoy time there. John met his future wife, Joy, on Lake Tashmoo where her family also summered. They had three children.

Early on, John exhibited a remarkable combination of ambition and creativity. He studied at Boston University, beginning a degree in engineering but finishing with a degree in education.

From a young age he was fascinated with “lighter than air” crafts — for example dirigibles and hot air balloons — and had aspirations of bringing them back into popular use.

A parallel interest of John’s was cooking and entertaining. After college, he started a catering company, Easy Cook Eaty. In the early 1980s, he began developing one of his popular catering items for the commercial market, a crunchy sourdough breadstick layered with fine cheeses. In 1985, he opened a small shop in the East Village of New York City and John Wm. Macy’s CheeseSticks was born. CheeseSticks were soon embraced by the many gourmet shops that were popping up all over Manhattan.

In 1990 he moved the business to a large factory space in Elmwood Park, N.J. and his brother Tim joined the company. Together they grew the business. Over the decades, John remained steadfast in his devotion to his employees and in creating a quality product. John’s CheeseSticks, cheese crisps and crostini are now sold throughout the United States and Canada.

Spending quality time with his family was important to him. John’s children inherited his fondness for cooking and the family spent many happy hours together in their kitchen in Blauvelt, N.Y. He loved getting everyone together, whether around his 25-foot long Thanksgiving table, his 20-foot Christmas tree in the barn, or at his Christmas cookie bake, which he held at the CheeseSticks factory for many years, hosting more than 300 friends, family members and employees at its peak.

He loved to be outdoors and took great pleasure in the natural world, spotting the sliver of new moon after sunset, taking summer firefly walks, scouting the woods for firewood, or mowing the lawn with his beloved 1957 International Cub tractor.

On Martha’s Vineyard, when the wind was up and the tide was high, he couldn’t resist getting out on the water in his Sunfish sailboat. To all who knew him, it was hard to imagine him not on the move.

He continued to be strong and active into his 69th year. In late 2022, he was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. This past summer, despite his deteriorating health and mobility, he was determined to get everyone together on the Vineyard. At the time of his death, he had 33 family members assembled on the Island.

John had a cornucopia of wonderful qualities. He was humble, generous, thoughtful, headstrong and treated all with compassion. He was also quite funny. He and his family continued to share laughs together, even as the situation grew dark. He was one of a kind. He will be dearly missed.

John is survived by his wife, Joy Dille Macy, son Tom Macy and his wife Ellen, daughter Nell Macy dos Reis and her husband Warley, daughter Dinah Macy and her husband Nick Tanzi, grandchildren Willow, Violet, Wren, Lucas and Bela, and his siblings Tim, Jill, Sarah and Mike.

Memorial donations may be made to The Kristen Ann Carr Fund at