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Veterans and fraternal twins, John and Nathan McKenzie to Celebrate 90th birthday

Chicago, IL - April 08, 2019 - John and Nathan McKenzie’s journey hallmarks a lifetime of perseverance and endurance;  along with motivation and inspiration.  Life for the McKenzie men required that they not accept the world’s view of their future, but to set sail and to navigate a different path.  Just like their father; Felix Samuel McKenzie, who left his homeland, Jamaica, to work on the building of the Panama Canal; John and Nathan did not accept what America had in store for them as Black men, coming of age in the 1950s and 60s.

John and Nathan attended Dunbar High School. At the encouragement of their father, they focused on vocational career courses:  welding and electronics, respectively. The twins were also on Dunbar ’s football team and ran track. Their participation led to a city championship in track, and a scholarship to college. Ultimately, they both decided to serve America and joined the military.

John served his country, as a member of the U.S. Army in the Korean War from 1951-1953. As a combat engineer for the Army, John was part of the team responsible for using explosives to make roads and clear paths for trucks and equipment.  During John’s time in Korea, he saved the lives of many servicemen by defusing a bomb within minutes of exploding.  After his tour of duty was completed, John returned to the states, soon marrying, Daisy, of Kansas City, MO, and bearing four children.  John secured a position with the U.S. Naval Ordinance Plant where he welded grenade launchers, torpedoes, and other weaponry. He worked in this capacity for 14 years.  John also taught welding at Dawson/Kennedy King College. On any given day, John could be found teaching a young adult how to weld.

It is significant to mention that early in his marriage, John’s wife, Daisy, became ill, and was permanently hospitalized.  John, who was raised by his father after his mother passed away, drew from the strength that he observed in his childhood to raise his children.  John remembers one of his neighbors saying to him, “Man, you need to leave those kids and get on with your life.”  John strongly replied, “Those kids are my life!”

John owned a welding business and at different times had shops on both the south and north side of Chicago. In 1977 John built a Bradley GT sports car, with doors that open up for passenger entry.  John drove The Bradley in many parades throughout Chicagoland, including the Bud Billiken Parade.  In 1991, John met and married Gala, of Chicago. John and Gala, have driven their RV to each of the 48 contiguous states in America. They also have traveled internationally, touring: Egypt, Israel and Italy; and have taken many cruises to the Caribbean. John has been a member of South Park Missionary Baptist Church for over 30 years and still serves on the Usher Board.

Nathan joined the U.S. Army and served in Germany during peacetime from 1955 to 1957. While in Germany, Nathan became an electronics technician and maintained the communication system, so that the military could communicate sensitive information.  Nathan’s army buddies appreciated how he made everyone feel better, almost forgetting that they were miles away from home, on foreign land, with minimal essentials.  After completing his tour of duty with the military, in 1958, Nathan married Elizabeth of Columbus, GA. Elizabeth gave birth to a baby girl, a year later. Nathan secured a position at Western Electric, Hawthorne Works in Cicero, IL producing communication, telephone, and electrical equipment. He retired in 1984 after 33 years.

Nathan has been a member of Liberty Baptist Church for 65 years, and has served on many committees during that time, including the Fellowship of Christian Men and Feed the People Ministry.  Nathan and Elizabeth have taken cruises to Hawaii and traveled throughout the United States and overseas, including the Canadian Provinces, Quebec, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. Nathan has been a committed father; and dedicated husband to his wife, Elizabeth for over 60 years. His nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews, cherish him as their Uncle.

Instilling strong values and the importance of education to their children, many of the McKenzie offspring have graduated from some of the most prestigious schools in America, including the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, Hampton University, Northwestern University, Pomona College, Stanford, and Texas A & M.

On Saturday, April 13th, family, friends and the community will celebrate John and Nathan McKenzie’s 90th birthday.

Submitted by:  Sandra Means

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandra-means-businessoperationsproblemsolver/

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