Donald James McKenzie
Stapleton, GA – Donald James McKenzie, 83, loving husband of 62 years to Gloria Ruth Stoddard McKenzie, entered into his eternal rest Wednesday afternoon, December 23, 2020 at Keysville Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center. Graveside services to celebrate his life will be held at 2:30 P.M. Friday afternoon, January 8, 2021, in the Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Panama City, Florida, with Reverends Randal Kuhn and Joshua Fidler officiating.
Because of the family’s concern for public health and safety during this COVID-19 pandemic, the family requests that social distancing and other safety precautions be followed. The wearing of face masks is strongly encouraged.
A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Don was one of two children born to the late Lucille Florence Coffman McKenzie and the late James Christopher McKenzie. After graduating from Northeast High School, he joined the Air Force at the age of 17, going directly into the Fire Department after basic training. He was then transferred to Denver, Colorado for more extensive fire-fighting training, after which he served for two years at Chitose Air Base in Japan. His love story began at birth—his and Gloria’s mothers were best friends so they had grown up together and were also best of friends. Upon his coming home on leave after his tour in Japan, they reconnected, fell in love and married. Don was then sent to Cannon AFB in New Mexico where he finished out his tour. The very next day, he was hired on to continue in the same capacity as a civil servant. He then transferred to Richards-Gebaur AFB in Missouri, working there until its closing at which time he transferred to Tyndall AFB in Florida where he retired in 1987. Don then worked on base for another 10 years with Applied Research Associates, retiring from that position because of health issues. In 2018, his family was evacuated because of Hurricane Michael, relocating to Stapleton to live with his daughter. His health deteriorated to the point that he could not return to his beloved home in Panama City. Don’s passion was restoring old cars but he also loved working in the yard, especially cutting grass. He did enjoy reading during his quiet time. Don went to church from a young age but in 1959 had a life changing experience, accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He served his Lord everywhere he lived and for the last 20 years as a member of Carlisle Baptist Church. Having a great sense of humor with a dry wit, people were drawn to his big personality. He loved helping others in any way he could, especially those with a need and who were less fortunate. Don loved people of all ages, but especially babies and children. He helped coach little league in New Mexico and was involved in the children’s training classes at his church. He was a mentor to many young people during his years as a fire-fighter, encouraging and just “teaching by example”. He was a man of his word with an exemplary character which was reflected in everything he did. His goal was to allow Jesus to be shown to others through him and his life. Don is now reaping the fruits of his labor in his eternal home in Heaven.
Don was also preceded in death by his sister, Beverly Lucille McKenzie. Others left to cherish his memory include his children, Beth Ann Williford (Anthony) and Scott Andrew McKenzie; two grandchildren, Ethan Daniel Williford and Maranda Lynn Davis (Cody); and a great grandson, Brady Williford.
The family expresses their heartfelt thanks to the staff at Keysville Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center for their love and professional, compassionate care.
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that any memorial gifts be made to Carlisle Baptist Church Building Fund 835 S. Berthe Ave. Panama City, Florida 32404.