John Harvey McKenzie, age 81, of McKinleyville, passed peacefully Aug. 11. He was in the hospital for a brief illness, and was in the presence of his devoted daughter and dog.
John McKenzie was born August 1939 in Ventura, California, and grew up in Ojai, California. He attended Nordoff High School but dropped out short of completing his curriculum when a forest fire broke out in Ojai Valley. Lying about his age, he went on to work for the U.S. Forest Service for 40 years, starting out as a Hotshot Firefighter, before his training and work as a Heavy Equipment Mechanic. He spent his last 10 years in the USFS as the Head Zone Mechanic for the entire Las Padres National Forest. In 1996, he retired where he and his wife moved to McKinleyville from Morro Bay. To stay busy, he worked as a Medical Transporter. John was also a professional photographer of nature, wildlife and aerial fire fighting. He loved bluegrass music and meeting his friends for breakfast at Niveen’s.
All of his interests were a true testimony of his love, knowledge and appreciation of life and the beauty of living. He was a humbled hero to many, guardian to his family, and those close to him. He was truly one of the good guys, a real gentleman with the kindest heart. He will be deeply missed to all who knew him.
John McKenzie is survived by his daughter of Mount Shasta, and two sisters. He was preceded in death by his adoring wife of 40 years, Virginia (Gina) McKenzie.