Richard (Dick) MacKenzie
Burlington - Dick MacKenzie, 87, passed away peacefully on May 6, 2021. We are grateful for the kindness and loving support from family, friends, and the staff at McClure Miller Respite House.
Dick is survived by his daughter, Leslee; his grandchildren, Sam and Kate; his sisters Helen MacKenzie and Barbara Jewett; his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Dr. Richard and Barbara Reed, and many nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his wife of forty years, Marilyn Reed MacKenzie; his brother Bob MacKenzie, sister Mary Freeman, and his parents.
Born in Windsor, Vermont, to Edward and Cecelia MacKenzie, he grew up in Burlington and Richmond. Dick graduated from Cathedral High School (today known as Rice Memorial High School), leaving Vermont soon after to serve in the Navy during the Korean War. He was honored to serve his country. Based in San Diego, he greatly appreciated the opportunity to explore other parts of the world. Dick found his role as a flight navigator on the USS Boxer extremely gratifying
Upon return to Vermont, he received his degree from Champlain College. His career began at General Electric, first in Burlington, VT, and later in Erie, PA. Drawn home to family and the Green Mountains, he and Marilyn became long-time owners of Halls Card & Gifts on Church Street in Burlington. While Marilyn proved more than capable of independently running the store, Dick got to work in banking and in the community.
A founding member of the Downtown Business Association (known as Burlington Business Association), he loved exchanging ideas to help downtown grow and thrive. Dick and Marilyn were active supporters of the development of the Church Street Marketplace. After an enjoyable stint in commercial lending, he found success as a commercial real estate associate with Hickok & Boardman Realty, where he worked until retirement. Dick built long-term relationships throughout his career. He joined the Burlington Rotary Club early on and was a faithful, contributing member for over 40 years, serving as President in 1981.
Dick is known to have said, "Real estate may be my vocation - but basketball officiating is my avocation." From his start as an active floor official, he soon became an equally active member of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO). He served the organization for over 50 years in many capacities, including the organization's President in 2002. In 2005, IAABO bestowed upon him Honorary Life Membership. He continued participating as an active Past President until recent years. Dick was also a member of the College Basketball Officials Association (DBOA). That organization recognized him in 2001 with the John Nucatola Honorary Life Membership Award for his commitment to the organization and dedication to College Basketball officiating.
In 2006, the Vermont Principals Association recognized Dick "as one of the most respected and recognized basketball officials in the state," inducting him into VPA's Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame for his work as an official. Following 36 years as a floor official, Dick parlayed his love of the game to his role as a courtside official at St. Michael's College games and for decades at UVM Men's Basketball. A long-time member of UVM's athletics family, Dick worked the scoreboard and was an ambassador for the visiting officials. We thank UVM athletics for the respect and appreciation they showed Dick over the years.
But basketball wasn't his only passion. A member of Burlington Country Club for 55 years, he served as club President in '81 and '82. Dick was a fierce "competitor" in golf, cribbage, and the art of conversation. Whether playing in the men's league, a fundraising tournament or connecting with friends during a round - Dick never needed an excuse to play. As his vision faltered in recent years, he could still drive the ball straight down the middle.
Even in retirement, Dick's schedule was as full as his heart. He volunteered at the Oncology Unit at UVM Medical Center for over 5 years. His natural "glass is half full" attitude and resiliency was tested when he suddenly could no longer drive. He never wavered and began walking to the daily coffee club at Champlain Farms. The weekly schedule of coffee clubs, lunches, cribbage, and golf were sustained on foot and more often by the generosity of his friends. We offer sincere gratitude to Tom Racine, Bill Cimonetti, Rick Farnham, Stu Blanton, John Pijanowski, Lee and Cheryl Taylor, Tom Licata, Dan Shepardson, and all others who drove him places over the past few years. When the Champlain Farms crew slowed down, Dick started walking to Starbucks, where remarkably, at 86 he greeted old friends and new and became an appreciated regular.
As the song goes, "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world." Dick loved people and felt like he was extraordinarily blessed. He was proud of his daughter and appreciated her love and support, especially over the last decade of his life. He loved his grandchildren unconditionally. He helped out, attended their school events and sports—even if hockey was their winter choice over basketball. He was so proud of them. Even bragged about them from time to time. In turn, they loved and admired him. He modeled how to build strong, lasting relationships, how by giving you receive back tenfold.
Dick's remarkable life was a collection - of interests, family, and lifelong friendships. He cherished them, thrived on them, and believed he was the luckiest man in the world because of them.
A memorial service and celebration will be held in early summer at a time to be determined by the family. If you choose to make a donation in Dick's memory, we encourage you to consider the UVM Athletics Victory Club, c/o the UVM Foundation, 61 Summit Street, Burlington, VT 05401 or the McClure Miller Respite House, 3113 Roosevelt Highway, Colchester, VT 05446.
Arrangements are in care of Corbin & Palmer Funeral Home, 9 Pleasant Street, Essex Jct., Vermont.
Published in The Burlington Free Press from May 13 to May 16, 2021.