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1927 Richard 2022

Richard "Dick" Mckenzie

September 5, 1927 — August 3, 2022

Madison

What does it say about a marriage of nearly 70 years when spouses die just five months apart? Both lives well lived together. Richard McKenzie, strong and independent until the end, let go of life on August 3, 2022, following his wife, Jean, who died on February 11, 2022.

Richard McKenzie, “Dick,” was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on September 5, 1927, to an eccentric father and huggable mother. Shortly after Dick’s birth, his father sold his manufacturing company for a small fortune, taking cash rather than 50% more value in stock. The stock market crashed two months later, and the stock would become nearly worthless. Timing is everything.

Using some of the profit, Dick’s father, R.E., built an impressive, nationally acclaimed harness horse racing and breeding facility where Dick worked during the summer months. His father encouraged independence, and when Dick was 12 years old, he was sent on a car trip led by his older brothers at 14 and 16 years with the instruction to “go see California” and “be sure Dicky eats vegetables”. This was a license to torture. To his last day, he would never touch a tomato.

After an eye-opening stint in the army at the end of WW2, Dick moved to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin, where he ultimately graduated from law school. More important though was that he met Badger Beauty and future wife, Jean DePew, while they were both in line to enroll in a botany class. Again, timing is everything.

Upon graduation Dick started what was to be an ill-fated solo law practice. Because he didn’t like to network, clients were scarce. His largest account was Joe Rosenthal his TV repairman who needed legal muscle to collect repair bills. Jean and Dick’s first child, John, had come into the world and needed to be fed regularly so it was time for Plan B.

Dick went to work as a claims adjuster for Mutual Service Insurance Company. It didn’t pay much but it was so easy he could finish his work in about a day and a half a week. That left him ample time to focus on his new passion, Real Estate. His first big deal involved convincing Mutual Service to relocate to a building he and the sales agent in his office had secretly purchased. Crafty move. Ultimately, he went on to develop numerous office, multi-family and single family properties in Madison and Middleton. He will forever have left an imprint on the west side of town.

His family and remaining friends will always remember his strength, generosity, thoughtfulness, great sense of humor, and competitive spirit. He loved playing cards (Hearts and Gin Rummy), history, crossword puzzles, studying his globe, orange juice, cigars and lots of salt.

In later years Jean and Dick built a 2nd home in Naples, Florida where they enjoyed new friends and family visitors. Dick became quite a good tennis player in his later years. He nearly won a doubles tennis tournament at his club when he was 90. He was by far the oldest player and was twice his partner’s age. In the final match he and his partner only lost on a tie breaker when the younger man missed a shot.

Dick never stooped and walked without a cane until the end. At 94 he mowed his own yard. He died at home in his bed while asleep with his devoted Havanese dog, Sasha, by his side. She seemed to sense the moment because only seconds before he passed, she let out a small whimper and got up and stared at his face just inches away.

Richard R. McKenzie is survived by his son, John, (Jo Ellen) and daughter, Lisa, (John Livesey) and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His son, Tim, (Mary Ann) preceded him in death in 2013.

The family would like to express their deep gratitude to two very special people, Mary Beth Henry and Aya Bayarsaikhan . These two angels made his final months much more fun and comfortable than it would have been without their talent and compassion. He lost his final Gin Rummy game to Aya. He probably let her win.

The family will conduct a private ceremony at Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison at a later date.

Cress Funeral & Cremation Services

3610 Speedway Road

(608) 238-3434

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