Donald Douglas MacKenzie
1963 - 2020
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MacKenzie, Donald Douglas
January 4, 1963 - July 5, 2020

Don MacKenzie was born in Darien, CT to the late Warren Gair MacKenzie and the late Phoebe Connor MacKenzie and passed away after suffering a heart attack in Vail, CO over the 4th of July weekend. Don is survived by his loving wife of 26 years, Suzanne Grant MacKenzie and three devoted daughters, Phoebe Fischer MacKenzie, Sarah Grant MacKenzie, and Margot Pease MacKenzie of Cherry Hills Village, CO. Don is also survived by his siblings Phoebe MacKenzie Smith (Steve) and James Connor MacKenzie (Audrey) of St. Louis, MO and Scott A. MacKenzie of Cordoba, Argentina and nine nieces and nephews. Additionally, Don will be missed by his beloved uncle, John P. MacKenzie, of New York City. In addition to his parents, Don was predeceased by his brother Warren Gair MacKenzie, Jr.
Don was educated at Principia High School in St. Louis, MO and Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. He graduated from Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT in 1985. Don was a member of the Dissipated 8, the college's oldest a capella group, which allowed him to utilize his fine and resonant singing voice. In the summer prior to graduation, he completed an internship on the Soviet desk at the State Department in Washington, D.C. during the Reagan Administration.
Following graduation, Don moved to New York City and began his career working as a financial analyst at Paine Webber in the Mergers and Acquisitions group. He specialized in financial institutions and this experience led him to real estate as a vocation, as he was on the ground floor of the Savings & Loan (S&L) debacle, when defaults of mortgage backed securities (MBS) caused the downfall of many S&L's nationally. Don moved to Salt Lake City, UT in 1987 and worked for Wallace Associates Consulting Group, where he helped analyze the loan portfolios backing the defaulted MBS loans owned by many institutions.
With this leading edge expertise, Don become the fifth employee of Wellsford Residential Property Trust in 1989, which was a REIT that purchased non-performing real estate assets from bank portfolios. He rose to Executive Vice President and began to travel to from New York City to oversee the firm's projects in Denver and the West. He moved to Denver with Suzanne in 1993.
Recognizing his passion for the challenges and rewards of real estate development, Don's career continued with Equity Residential Properties, UDR, and Forum Real Estate LLC, developing several billion dollars of luxury multifamily rental, mixed use, and high end single family residential construction around the West. From 1999 to 2009, Don was President and CEO of MacKenzie House, LLC which developed luxury single family homes, multi-family rental properties, condos, and high end senior housing communities. At the time of his passing, Don was serving as President and CEO of Upstream Development, which was beginning development of a former aggregate mine on the banks of the Eagle River in Edwards, CO with a community comprised of seasonal luxury apartments, retail and entertainment spaces, and a boutique hotel. Other professional affiliations include long time membership in Urban Land Institute and YPO.
Despite his many business achievements, his family wants Don to be remembered for his compassion, kindness, and profound desire for people to be able to live better lives. In addition to supporting many causes towards this goal, Don also gave unselfishly of his time to the Center for Work Education and Employment (CWEE), where served on the Board for over two decades, and as Chair for 16 years. Helping to transition its workers, predominantly female, to achieve economic self-sufficiency through job skills training, GED classes, and networking, CWEE helps its graduates find work that allow them to support their families and find much deserved respect.
Hard to believe that Don accomplished so much in only 57 years not to mention the time he spent with his family and friends, doing the things outside of business and philanthropy that he loved. A life-long learner in the truest sense, Don was rarely seen without a book about myriad subjects, highlighter in hand to make sure to go back and review passages that spoke to him. Don was a keen racquet sports player, loving both tennis and paddle tennis. To make sure that everyone would have the best facility to enjoy the sports that he loved, Don served two terms as President of the Arapahoe Tennis Club and oversaw the addition of a fifth paddle tennis court and construction of a warming hut. Don also enjoyed skiing, upland bird hunting, snorkeling, and above all, fly fishing in both fresh and saltwater. This love of fly fishing in exotic places mirrored his love of travel and learning about new places and cultures. Another endeavor that blended his love of fishing with his goal of responsible development was the creation of the Palometa Club in Ascension Bay, Mexico in 2005. Recognized as the premier permit fishing lodge in the world, Don employed guides from the local fishing village of Punta Allen, providing sustainable jobs as an alternative to illegal commercial fishing within the Sian Ka'an Biosphere.
Don frequently traveled internationally with his beloved family, from Italy to India, and once traveled to China to oversee the fabrication of glass panels for a building he developed in San Francisco. Don was one of the best dinner guests possible, always happy to contribute a bottle from his extensive cellar and excited to engage in thoughtful conversation with almost anyone. Don was an amazing friend, husband, and father to his three girls and will be missed by all. The greatest consolation is that he left us with so many stories to remember him by and to help fill the void of his loss.
His family expresses their sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support they have received from their friends and asks that you remember Don by doing something special for someone that needs help, but has not asked for it, as this is the way that he did things. A private memorial will be held and a larger celebration of life is anticipated later this year when conditions allow. Donations in Don's name can be made to CWEE through their website at www.cwee.org. Checks can also be mailed to: Center for Work Education and Employment, 1175 Osage Street, Suite 300, Denver, CO, 80204.


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Published in Denver Post on Jul. 12, 2020.
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8 entries
July 26, 2020
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Pam Decker
July 18, 2020
I'm very sorry, indeed, to hear about the passing of Don McacKenzie. We knew each other at Middlebury - Don was the lead in a musical I wrote my senior year. He was great in the show, charming on and off stage, a really stand-up guy, lots of fun and a deep thinker - I valued our time together. RIP.
Dan Elish
Friend
July 13, 2020
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Mark Kalkus
July 13, 2020
What a beautiful memorial to Don. We were in High School together and sang together in the production of Fidler on the Roof, etc. Don was always so kind to me even though I was an underclassman. I admired him, really, and genuinely loved him as a friend and respected him. I'm sorry that we didn't stay in touch all these years, but I have had the wonderful opportunity of a friendship with his sister Phoebe and brother in law, Steve and their family. He accomplished so much and gave so much - unselfishly. I am so sorry that he is gone. I am sending so much love to his wife Suzanne and their girls, to Scott and his family, to Phoebe and her family.
Elissa Miller
Friend
July 12, 2020
I only knew Don for a year and a half and in that time we became close colleagues. Don had great vision enhanced by an incredible amount of knowledge about land development. I learned a lot from Don and I am a better person for having known Don and will miss him greatly. Rest in peace my friend.
Dominic Mauriello
Friend
July 10, 2020
I had the great honor of working for and with him as an outside consultant during his time at UDR and Forum. Borrowing and slightly editing a line from Jack Nicholson: He made me want to be a better professional. He brought out the best in people by believing in them, encouraging them, and leading with his heart. Don was a voracious reader and intellectual. His gift of a favorite book ~ The Anatomy of Peace ~ influenced my choice of a dissertation topic. We had many "critical conversations" and Don was the first person to look in the mirror and go first. I am heartsick by the loss to the community and his family. May his memory be for a blessing.
Aleen Bayard
Coworker
July 10, 2020
Dear MacKenzie Family, My wonderful memories of Donald are from Westfield at our home, your home or on the circle playing baseball. Your family is kind and loving. Donald was a wonderful brother. Sending my love and prayers to all of you. Warmly, Lisa Young
Elizabeth Muff
Friend
July 9, 2020
I am a family friend from Darien and have fond memories of Don as great athlete and all around nice guy with All American good looks and style. So impressed by his accomplishments but sincerely not surprised as he was always known to have high ambitions and it appears to have lived by the motto "to those who much is given, much is expected" Don was obviously blessed with an amazing family, tons of talent, and it seems he made the most of it and put it all to phenomenal use. I send my sincerst condolences to his family, friends and associates. And as mentioned in his eulogy as a request to help someone in need who hasnt asked, consider that done and that seems very much like him amd a wonderful tribute and legacy.
Tim Widmer
Acquaintance
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