John Strong MacKenzie, age 92, passed away on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at the Adler Center in Aldie, Virginia. He was born in Hoopeston, Illinois on February 24, 1925, the third son of the late Kenneth MacKenzie of Glasgow, Scotland and Martha Florence Strong MacKenzie of Paxton, Illinois. He was preceded in death by his three brothers, Kenneth, Donald, and Robert MacKenzie. He spent his childhood in northern India (present-day Pakistan) before its partition, where both of his parents met, wed, and entered into Christian service as Presbyterian missionaries. Upon their return to the States, the family settled in New York City, and John attended Towsend Harris High School. Later, he enrolled in the College of the City of New York for one year before enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II. John served as an aviation electronics technician and air crewman in the Asiatic Pacific Theater and received an Air Medal with Gold Star and other commendations for meritorious acts in aerial flight. At the conclusion of his military service, John embarked on a lifelong devotion to literature and the arts. He obtained a B.A. degree in English from the University of Southern California in 1949, and, later, an M.A degree in English from Columbia University in 1955. At Columbia he received a special commendation for his graduate thesis on the works of the English poet, painter, and printmaker, William Blake. He also pursued further graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At the time of his death, John was Professor Emeritus of English and the Humanities at Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he taught a variety of courses for thirty-two years and touched the lives of thousands of students over the course of his long teaching career. Prior to teaching at Germanna, he taught at a number of other colleges and universities, including Clemson University, Eastern Kentucky University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of South Florida, Clinch Valley College of University of Virginia (now University of Virginia College at Wise), and Virginia Commonwealth University. John was a popular and beloved professor among his students and well respected by his faculty colleagues. It was not uncommon for former students to bump into John on the streets of Fredericksburg and remark that his classes had inspired them to become writers, lawyers, and educators. After his retirement in 2002, he remained current in his field and also explored new disciplines by auditing courses at Mary Washington College and Georgetown University. John also traveled extensively and joined reading circles and French and Spanish conversation groups. His knowledge about tennis and baseball was legendary, as was his unwavering devotion to the Cleveland Indians. He enjoyed fine food, film, literature, and drama, and regularly attended cultural events in Washington D.C., Richmond, and New York City. Nourishing his strong interest in politics and world affairs, he read several newspapers daily and his favorite magazine, The New Yorker. John will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He will be remembered for his compassionate humility, his intellectual curiosity, and his generous spirit. He is survived by his brother Kenneth's sons, Kevin MacKenzie of Rockville, Maryland, Bruce MacKenzie of Austin, Texas, and Douglas MacKenzie of Genesco, New York, and their wives and children; and by his brother Donald's son and daughter, David MacKenzie of Kingman, Texas, and Lorna MacKenzie Davis of Goodman, Missouri, and their spouses and children. He will also be remembered by his loving companion and friend of thirty-one years, Mercedes Paz-Carty of Reston, Virginia, and her family, who dearly loved him and adopted him as their own, Margarita Marin-Dale, Thomas Dale, Philip Dale, and William Dale of Herndon, Virginia; Maria Eugenia Marin Wagner and family of Madrid, Spain; Monica Marin Rein and family of Fayetteville, Pennsylvania; Maria Ximena Marin of Los Angeles, California; Maria Ines Marin and family of Roanoke, Texas; and Edward Andrews and family of Jupiter, Florida. Funeral services will be held at 12:00 PM on Friday, March 9 at Quantico National Cemetery, followed by a remembrance lunch in celebration of John's life. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project at address listed below.

Service

Quantico National Cemetery
18424 Joplin Road
Triangle, VA 22172

March 9, 2018
12:00 PM - 12:30 PM

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  1. We will miss your gentle manner and your loving ways. Thank you for being such an important part of our lives. We will treasure you always.

  2. Heartfelt condolences. I always enjoyed talking with Jon in the Spanish speaking group in Reston. He was a gentleman. I will miss him a lot. RIP John. Dear Mercedes: I always admired how John cared for you and you for him. I am very sorry for you loss. My sympathies and prayers.

  3. Sincerest sympathies, Mercedes, in the loss of your dear friend. I will always remember his smile, clear blue eyes, and the matching beret. He was a gentle presence at Spanish Meetup, and he was always a gracious gentleman to you.

  4. Goodbye John. I’ll miss your wit and our spirited conversations. In the 30 years I knew you I never saw you angry or unkind. Thank you for being a part of our family. You were truly a remarkable person.

  5. I miss you John. I really enjoyed our wonderful conversations on Saturdays at Panera. You were always such a delightful presence, with your books and newspapers. I feel privileged to have known you. RIP.

  6. As person of quiet demeanor, John was a dedicated and revered member of the Germanna Community College faculty. He touched the lives of countless students and faculty members during his tenure. His knowledge, zeal for teaching and gentle compassion made him a treasure in the development of a newly-launched, educational endeavor that was unique among the many institutions comprising the Virginia Community College System. The college was blessed for engaging a person of John’s stature.

  7. I have so many fond memories of John from our Jung Group in Fredericksburg. Such a sharp mind and gentle heart, and always a smile and a warm spark in his eyes. Mercedes, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. Dear Mechi: Our deepest condolences to you and the family on the loss of your dear companion John, he made a profound impression on us with his loving demeanor towards you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  9. John was a member of our Great Books group for many years, accompanied by Mercedes before she moved north. He always arrive with voluminous, single-spaced, typewritten notes. He never forgot his academic & teaching background. We were privileged to have them both as members. My other strong memory of John is that he was always a gentleman. He is missed.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss. John was a wonderful educator and a kind soul. As a student in his class, he inspired and challenged me. His depth of knowledge amazed me. Rest In Peace John.

  11. I will never forget carpooling with John when Germanna first opened in 1970. I would pick him up at the Princess Anne Inn and we would talk on our way to the new campus just past Wilderness next to the Rapidan River. He was always a gentleman and a scholar. His knowledge of humanities always amazed me. He was respected by his students: many not until after they transferred and realized how brilliant he was. I last saw him a few years ago at the Southpoint Panera where he joined Gil Coleman and me for breakfast. He is a dear soul and will be missed.

  12. For whatever reason, I came across John’s obituary while searching for a former Germanna Community College student whose first name is Mackenzie! I was a part of John’s Founding Faculty cohort at GCC in 1970. We played many games of softball together, and had many lengthy discussions about every topic in the multiverse! John was a true Renaissance Man who always encouraged us all to take what he called the Via Positiva rather than the Via Negativa Path of Existence in our relationships with others. I went to many academic conferences with him, and he was always able to give me added perspective on everything! Quite a great intellect and a quiet, great man. John was cut from a different cloth, and he taught us all to be thoughtful and generous. Joel C. Tate Teaching colleague and John’s friend

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