The Lois and Willard Mackey Chair in Creative Writing was established in the late 1980s by the late Willard Mackey'47, in honor of his late wife, Lois Wilson Mackey'45. Lois and Bill first dated on December 7, 1941, when both were Beloit College freshmen. As they were leaving a restaurant in downtown Beloit, they learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some months later Bill was overseas in the United States Marines, while Lois finished her degree at Beloit. Bill finished his two years later, after the war. He had a brilliant career in advertising. Lois loved literature and was an enthusiastic reader of same. Her memory, and Bill's dedication to the value of creativity, led to the founding of the Lois Mackey Distinguished Writers Program.
Mackey writers teach an advanced creative writing class at Beloit; they also give a public reading of their work. Many Beloit students have sharpened their creative writing through the influence of "Mackeys," as the Mackey professors are called; and Mackey public readings are among the most anticipated and best attended events on campus.