Herman L. McKenzie
Herman L. McKenzie, of Madison, a respected educator in Mississippi for forty-three years, died at St. Dominic Hospital on Saturday, November 18, at age 87. At his bedside was his son, Kevin and his wife of fifty-eight years, Loyce.
Herman, the only son and middle child of Herman Lamar McKenzie, Sr. and Maude Freeman McKenzie, was born in the family home in Forest on January 3, 1930. He graduated from Forest High School, attended East Central Junior College and graduated from Millsaps College in 1950, majoring in mathematics. He was especially influenced by the teaching methods of Dr. Benjamin Earnest Mitchell.
He began teaching at Clinton Jr. High, but in January of 1951 he joined the United States Air Force, and spent three years in at St. John’s, Newfoundland. during the Korean War, where he was in charge of flight readiness of every American plane on its way to Greenland.
In 1954, he began teaching mathematics at Winona High School. Four years later, moving to Greenwood to become head of the mathematics department at Greenwood High School, he met another new teacher, John C. Williams, who would introduce him to his future wife, Loyce Cain, who had been a classmate of John’s wife, Lettye Ruth Allen Williams, at Canton High School. Loyce was the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. J.B. Cain, now of Magnolia, Mississippi. The couple were married on August 19, 1959, in the Methodist Church in Magnolia, and moved to Greenwood.
In 1963, the McKenzies moved to Jackson, where Herman joined the mathematics department at Millsaps College, a position he would hold until retirement in 1992. The couple built a home in northwest Jackson, where they were a key part of the establishment of Aldersgate Methodist Church. They were blessed in 1968 with a son, Kevin Lamar. They began a family routine of summer trips to the Smokey Mountains, and later, to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.
In 1973, the McKenzies returned to Galloway Memorial. Herman joined the Watkins-Griffith Bible Class, which would be a major focus of his attention for the next 41 years. He taught regularly once or twice a month, studying for hours for each thirty-minute session.
In 1985, the McKenzies bought four wooded acres on a south Madison County hillside, and built their home, much of it with the labor of their own hands. It was designed by their fifteen-year-old son, Kevin (who had the rare privilege of redesigning it 33 years later, after a fire.)
Herman had always taken a keen interest in the Millsaps College football team, serving as the announcer, high in the press box. Now he transferred his allegiance to the Madison Central Jaguar football team, not missing a home game for twelve years.
Loyce had developed a keen interest in growing and exhibiting daffodils. Herman dug the beds, and planted St. Augustine grass over the front yard, always making time to go fishing in their five-acre pond. His proudest possession was a new John Deere riding mower. He jovially welcomed members of the American Daffodil Society to their garden on the tour days of two national ADS conventions, in 1997 and 2011.
One hot sunny afternoon in the summer of 2000, he looked at the empty concrete planter boxes at the entrance to the driveway into the Madison Central High School campus and decided to do something about it. For the next fifteen years, winter and summer, he planted, weeded and watered these beds, hauling water in ten-gallon buckets from home in his Toyota pick-up. He developed an ideal year-round planting scheme featuring purple kale and pansies in the winter, and periwinkle and plumbago in summer.
He developed Parkinson’s disease about 2008, and gradually this kept him from active yardwork. In the last few months, life grew much more painful. But just a few weeks ago, on the occasion of Kevin’s 49th birthday, Herman enjoyed a perfect day. A trip to Bob White’s barber shop (no one else had ever cut his hair since he moved to Jackson), a steak at Doe’s, and a joyful and happy time with Kevin, and Kevin’s daughter Ashley and Ashley’s son Mason.
Herman is survived by his wife, Loyce, son Kevin, granddaughter Ashley and great-grandson Mason. His older sister, Joyce McKenzie Red, of Forest, died in 2016, age 91. Herman is also survived by his younger sister, Beverly McKenzie Ashmore of Leighton, Alabama, wife of Jim Ashmore, a legend in Mississippi State basketball, and by five nieces.
Visitation was at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 21, at Galloway United Methodist Church with the service following at 2:00. Burial was in Parkway Memorial Cemetery.