Francis MacKenzie, New Waterford
On Tuesday, July 13, Francis (Frank) MacKenzie passed away peacefully and unexpectedly at his home in New Waterford, Nova Scotia. Beloved husband, cherished father and grandfather, and devoted brother and friend, he leaves behind a legacy of love and loyalty to his large family and his beloved New Waterford.
Born into the warm heart of a large coal-mining family, Francis grew up at the knee of his loving parents, Neil and Katie Flora MacKenzie. Danced around the kitchen by his older sisters and wrestled to the kitchen floor by his many brothers, he grew into someone with a genuine love for people and a passion for music, sports, and his Gaelic culture. He played basketball through to his university years and later as part of the title-winning Strands basketball team, but his proudest stories related to the pole-vaulting feats accomplished by so many New Waterford children on the “brook hill” on the walk home from school; he felt it was the truest test of courage and skill. This love of athleticism stayed with him his entire life. His basketball coaching career spanned over 40 years and included teams from the elementary to the university level. An incredible athlete in his own right, he remained a committed runner, weightlifter, and skier until the very end of his life.
In his early years teaching in Toronto, and despite having only taught himself to swim the year prior, he competed for and obtained a coveted summer position as a Harbour Policeman in Toronto. His memories of lifeguarding remained sprinkled among his fond recollections of teaching with the Toronto Catholic School Board.
Educated at Normal College and later St.F.X. and Dalhousie, Frank was a beloved teacher at Breton Education Centre from 1970 to 1995. As Head of the English department, he shared his love of poetry and literature in impactful ways, from supervising broadly inclusive speech festivals and Grad Concert variety shows to engaging class discussions on Shakespearean plays. In retirement, he returned as a substitute teacher in the school board’s music program. Introduced to music through the Stadacona Sea Cadet band in the 1950’s, he remained a trombone player all of his life. Until Covid restrictions hit, he was a proud and dedicated member of The Donkin Citizen’s Brass Band. A talented guitar and piano player, he also ensured the MacKenzie household was always alive with music. He loved nothing more than playing and singing with all eleven of his grandchildren, often leading their marching bands around the house whenever he had them assembled. His performing abilities also found expression in retirement through his participation in many plays staged by the Boardmore Theatre.
Frank was also a standard-bearer for the Gaelic language and served for a period of time as the Chief of the Taigh Nan Gaidheal. He loved conversing with other speakers and sharing his learning with others.
Above all else, Dad was a loving husband and father. Enamoured of the yearbook editor who one day corralled his basketball team for a photo, he married Margaret MacSween in 1968 and together they raised five children. Eleven grandchildren followed. His love and energy for each of them was boundless, from playing on the floor with them as small babies to renovating their homes as adults. His adoration for his nine older siblings and his many nieces and nephews was also a defining feature of his life. Visits with family were the best times, especially those at the MacNeil family homestead in St. Rose. It was there that his storytelling was at its best.
Francis is survived by his wife, Margaret (MacSween) and his five children; Kerrianne (Todd Hiscock) MacKenzie; David (Carol) MacKenzie (Perth, ON); Dana (John Whyte) MacKenzie (Halifax); Francis (Michelle) MacKenzie (Coxheath), and Michael (Lindsey) MacKenzie (Calgary). He is survived by his sisters, Rita MacKenzie (New Waterford), Celia MacNeil (Boston), and Chris Reilley (Bridgewater, Mass) and his brother, Raymond MacKenzie (Margaree Harbour). He had 11 beloved grandchildren: Ruairidh, Maili Ceit, Mairead, Malcolm, Elizabeth, Angus, Ewen, Lily, Fiona, Cian, and Ellie. He was predeceased by his parents, and siblings, Alex, Angus, Elizabeth, Neil, and Hugh, and by his beloved grandson, Malcolm. Their reunion assuages our grief.
A visitation will occur on Sunday, July 18 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. in V.J. McGillivray Funeral Home, 380 Smith Street, New Waterford. A Funeral Mass of celebration will take place on Monday, July 19 at 10 a.m. in the Parish Church of St. Leonard, Mount Carmel Avenue, with Father Peter McLeod officiating. Cremation will follow with burial in St. Agnes Cemetery at a later date. Seating in the church is limited to 150 people. A livestream of the funeral can be accessed by visiting the following link: https://www.facebook.com/carol.mackenzie.37669. Masks and social distancing are required at both the visitation and Funeral Mass. Donations in his memory can be made to KidSport Nova Scotia. Online expressions of sympathy may be sent to the family at: www.vjmcgillivray.ca.
His love is our legacy.
A chuid do Pharras Dha – His Share of Paradise to Him