Longtime resident and retired educator, James Oliver MacKenzie, 84, passed May 6, 2013 at the Anchorage Pioneer Home. James was born January 20, 1929 in Hoopeston, Illinois to Alexander and Mary Jane MacKenzie. He is survived by his sister Olive; sons, James and Daniel; grandchildren, Aiden, Brooke, Catherine, Colin, Emma and Eryn and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of forty years, Marie Catherine MacKenzie.
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James served in in the United States Army from 1948-1952 with tours in post war Japan and then Korea. He received the Purple Heart after being seriously wounded by mortar fire and spending 18 months in the hospital. After his discharge James graduated from Muskingum University in Michigan receiving a B.A. in History and obtained a M.A. in Education from Western Michigan University.
In 1957, he moved to Alaska and became a member of Alaska's Territorial Police Force serving the area between Glennallen and the Mat Su Valley. However, it was clear that teaching was his one and only calling, and following two year stints in Palmer and Ninilchik, James decided to make Anchorage his home where he began by teaching two years at Wendler Jr. High and then finally finding the school of his dreams, East High, where he taught U.S. History, American Government and Advanced Placement History for twenty-two years until his retirement. James said about his legacy as an educator: As a teacher, I always wanted students to be proud of themselves and to remember that they were good at something. I worked at my job and loved every minute of it!"
James was the quintessential "Quiet Man." He never hesitated to lend a helping hand and was not one to leave things unfinished. His approach to life is most closely described by Lincoln's quote that "It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in the years." His family and friends will miss him terribly and his sons will forever keep their father in their hearts.
James will be laid to rest at the end of May in a private family ceremony alongside his wife Marie at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.
Arrangements are with Janssen's Evergreen Memorial Chapel.
Published in adn.com from May 26 to May 27, 2013