William Ralph McKenzie, 89, died at Summerhill in Peterborough, NH on Sept 17, 2021, after a lengthy illness. Special thanks go to the nursing staff of Meadows II for the compassionate, loving care he received at the end.
He was born May 17, 1932, in Boston, MA, the second of two children of William Angus and Sarah Helena (MacLeod) McKenzie. Bill grew up in Somerville, MA, attending local schools before entering Tufts University, earning a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1954.
His parents, along with others from their community, emigrated from Prince Edward Island, Canada to the Boston area after World War I. Yearly visits to Prince Edward Island to reconnect with family and friends were highly anticipated events and the source of a lifetime of happy memories. Years later he eagerly guided his family through his childhood haunts.
He was nine when he got his first bike which greatly expanded his world. He rode it to Logan Airport to watch the planes take off and land, to Walden Pond and the Mystic Lakes to swim. When he was 13, he rode it to Hanscom Field when General Patton arrived, from there to the Esplanade to hear him speak, then home to Somerville, over 30 miles. He also got a paper route, the first of many part time jobs, which taught him the value of work and thrift, and by the end of high school he had saved enough to finance his first year at Tufts, graduating in 1954.
His Tufts years were happy ones, forging many ties and long-lasting friendships, particularly with his Theta Delta Chi brothers. Yearly reunions, post retirement, at Ben Sands’ Lake Winnipesaukee camp were not to be missed.
As a boy, he loved making model airplanes, igniting them and launching them from his bedroom window. Fortunately, he chose flying over arson and when he entered Tufts he enrolled in the Air Force ROTC. He was recruited by General Electric for its Manufacturing Training Program and completed one assignment before entering the USAF, serving as a pilot until his discharge in 1957. Bill returned to the GE Training Program, and joined the Air National Guard, serving until 1971, being called up for active duty during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.
He managed many manufacturing operations with GE, in New York, Spain, and Michigan. Bill’s last assignment with GE was managing their small motor business, with five factories in the US and Singapore. After retiring from GE, Bill became VP of Manufacturing for Chicago Pneumatic in New York.
He enjoyed many pastimes: tennis, skiing and gardening. He especially enjoyed camping and boating on Lake George with family and friends. He attacked golf with enthusiasm but little success. But most of all, he loved spending time with his family.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ann; 4 children, Laurel McKenzie and husband Charles Turcotte of Jaffrey, NH, Mark McKenzie of Greenwich, NY, James McKenzie and wife Tara of Dundee, MI, and Sue McKenzie and husband Jeffrey Foresman of Hingham, MA, his niece Linda Carlson of Cedar Hill, TX and 2 grandchildren Lauren McKenzie of Ann Arbor, MI and Alexander Foresman of Hingham, MA. He was predeceased by his sister Doris Mae Carlson.
There will be no calling hours. A memorial celebration is being planned for some time in October.