Herman Lamar McKenzie

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Jan. 3, 1930 – Nov. 18, 2017


JACKSON — Services for Herman Lamar McKenzie, 87, of Madison, who died Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, with his son, Kevin, and his wife, Loyce, of 58 years at his bedside, will be 2 p.m. today at Galloway United Methodist Church.

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Burial will follow at Parkway Memorial Cemetery under the direction of Parkway Funeral Home.

Visitation will be from 1 p.m. until service time today at the church.

Herman, the only son and middle child of Herman Lamar McKenzie Sr. and Maude Freeman McKenzie, was born Jan. 3, 1930, at his family home in Forest.

He was a graduate of 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 Junior High. But, in January 1951, he joined the U.S. Air Force and spent three years in 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 Canin, who had been a classmate of John’s wife, Lettye Ruth Allen Williams, at Canton High School.

Loyce was the daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. J.C. Cain, now of Magnolia. The couple was married Aug. 19, 1959, at 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, Ga.

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 30-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 15-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 12 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 15 years, winter and summer, he planted, weeded and watered these beds, hauling water in 10-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 yard work. 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, Kevin’s daughter, Ashley, and Ashley’s son, Mason.

He was preceded in death by one older sister, Joyce McKenzie Red, age 91, who died in 2016.

Herman is survived by his wife, Loyce; one son, Kevin; one granddaughter, Ashley; great-grandson, Mason; one younger sister, Beverly McKenzie Ashmore and husband, Jim, of Leighton, Ala., a legend in Mississippi State basketball; and five nieces.