Herman L. McKenzie
Herman L. McKenzie
  • January 3, 1930 - November 18, 2017
  • Madison, Mississippi

Share This Obituary

Herman L. McKenzie, of Madison, a respected educator in Mississippi for forty-three years, died at St. Dominic Hospital on

Saturday, November 18, at age 87. At his bedside was his son, Kevin

and his wife of fifty-eight years, Loyce.

Herman, the only son and middle child of Herman Lamar

McKenzie, Sr. and Maude Freeman McKenzie, was born in the family home in Forest on January 3, 1930. He graduated from 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 Jr. High, but in January of

1951 he joined the United States Air Force, and spent three years in at

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 Cain, who had been a classmate of John’s wife, Lettye Ruth Allen Williams, at Canton High School.

Loyce was the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. J.B.Cain, now of Magnolia, Mississippi. The couple were married on August 19, 1959, in 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, Georgia.

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 thirty-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 fifteen-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 twelve 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 con-

ventions, 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 fifteen years, winter and summer, he planted, weeded

and watered these beds, hauling water in ten-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, and Kevin’s daughter Ashley and Ashley’s

son Mason.

Herman is survived by his wife, Loyce, son Kevin, granddaughter

Ashley and great-grandson Mason. His older sister, Joyce McKenzie

Red, of Forest, died in 2016, age 91. Herman is also survived by his younger sister, Beverly McKenzie Ashmore of Leighton, Alabama, wife of Jim Ashmore , a legend in Mississippi State basketball, and by five


Visitation will be at 1:00pm on Tuesday, November 21, at Galloway United Methodist Church with the service to follow at 2:00. Burial will be at Parkway Memorial Cemetery.

Pallbearers will include: Brett King, Wade Fowler, Merrill Nall, Peter McKay, Mac Blackwood, Mike Pitts.

Bishop Clay Lee will be leading the service.