Eugene "Gene" Howard McKenzie
Tuesday morning, October 11, 2016 at 9:45 a.m., Gene McKenzie peacefully and gently slipped out of this life into the eternally loving arms of Jesus Christ.
Eugene “Gene” Howard McKenzie was born October 4, 1926 to two amazing people, Charles McKenzie and Margaret Colburn Burge McKenzie in Springfield, Illinois. Margaret “Maggie” and Charles “Hoolie” had seventeen children. Three Children miscarried, two died in childhood and twelve grew to adulthood. This was a big, loud, rowdy, friendly, happy, loving, hardworking family. Parties were regularly held at the house and furniture would be moved outside so there would be room to dance. Maggie often made the beer.
After his dad died when Gene was eleven years old, Gene started working at many different jobs so he could help support his family. He ceased schooling when he was in the eighth grade. He began working at Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company at the age of sixteen in 1942. He was helping the war effort and bringing home the best money he had made in his life. He worked at Allis Chalmers for forty one years.
In 1943, Gene entered the United States Navy where he served honorably until 1946 when he was discharged from active duty to return to family, friends, and employment at Allis Chalmers.
Gene met the lovely, sweet and intelligent Agnes Blakeman after returning from the Navy. In 1949, they were married and settled down to live happily ever after. Oops… Korean War! He was recalled to active service (he didn’t know they could do that to him-they could). To make things less objectionable, the United States Navy sent him to Honolulu, Hawaii where he spent the conflict refitting vessels for Pearl Harbor. As an added bonus, Agnes was allowed to join him in Hawaii and they both jumped at the chance.
At the end of the active part of the Korean War, Gene was again released from active duty with the United States Navy, never to be called upon again. He and Agnes returned to Springfield, where Gene resumed working at Allis Chalmers, Agnes became a state employee and they bought a house, had babies and lived the good life.
When Gene was in his 20’s, Agnes helped him to come to know and love the Big Carpenter and Fisher of Men Jesus Christ. He gave his life to Jesus and was baptized into the Christian faith and eternal salvation. He may have strayed from his relationship with Jesus, but he never forgot, never doubted, and he did return with passionate love and gratitude to Jesus.
They had two children Dennis (wife, Cathy Bundy) and Diane (husband, Rodney Jones). These two children were absolutely loved, adored, prized, and greatly bragged on by their dad all of the days of his life.
Unfortunately, Gene and Agnes were divorced in 1977 and Gene later married Wanda Bormida.
Gene retired from Fiat-Allis (Allis Chalmers) in 1983. He moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas where he lived on the lake for a number of years. He eventually moved back to the Central Illinois area.
Through his entire life, Gene loved singing, dancing, laughing, listening to music (live whenever possible), giving parties, fishing, boating, building or repairing ANYTHING, helping people, lending a hand, showing kindness, drinking lots of beer with family and friends, and showing amazing amounts of love to his family.
In later years, he suffered much from COPD, heart problems, large and small strokes (one of which left him blind), vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and seizures. In spite of all of this, he never lost his joy of life or his love for people.
Gene and the love of his life Agnes were reconciled and reunited in 2014.
For the last three years of his life, he was a favorite resident in St. Joseph’s home of Springfield under the tender, loving care of all of the sisters and staff.
The last week of his life, he was also watched over by the amazing staff of Memorial Hospice Care.
All of these wonderful caregivers are truly angels.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents Charles and Maggie McKenzie (a memorable cook and she made beer too); his brothers, Jess (Lorraine De Croix) McKenzie, George (Helen Chizm) McKenzie, Charles (Ruth Patton) McKenzie, Harry “Pete” (Anna Penny, Melba Snodgrass) McKenzie, Russell McKenzie (died in childhood), Emmett McKenzie (died in childhood) and Oliver (Frances Fisher) McKenzie; his sisters, Emma (Durard) McKenzie, Margaret (Art) Mohn, Betty (Harold, Thomas, John Fisher), Marie McKenzie (died in childhood), Rose (Harold) Williams and Dorthea “Peggy” (George Gates, Gene Moreland).
Gene is survived by Agnes McKenzie; two children, Dennis and Diane; five grandchildren; six great grandchildren; numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
He was greatly loved and appreciated and he will be sorely missed.
Memorial Gathering: 10-11 am, Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at Staab Funeral Home-Springfield.
Memorial Service: 11 am, Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at Staab Funeral Home-Springfield with Ted Washburn officiating. Burial will follow at Oak Ridge Cemetery were military honors will be conducted.
Memorial Contributions may be made to St. Joseph’s Home or Alzheimer’s Association.