J. Ronald McKenzie

Son of Esther and James Russell McKenzie. His father was a first generation Scottish Canadian while his mother was a fourth generation Dutch Canadian whose great great grandfather, Cyrus Mathias Cook, arrived at Ellis island, New York in 1819, aged 11 years.

Husband of Isabel Elena Castillo of Caracas, Venezuela.

He was born in Vancouver on July 28, 1931 and died on December 5, 2016 in Victoria, BC.

Dad lived a life of reward due to a diligent work ethic. Having suffered deprivation at the start (the “dirty 30s“), this lack spurred him on giving him great motivation.

His many successes may be due to having chosen a good partner to embark upon his life goals: his devoted wife of 64 years, Isabel Elena. She was an heiress from South America who met him while attending McGill University in Montreal in 1952. Exotic and beautiful… A catch indeed for the handsome, young officer of the Royal Canadian Air Force (1950-1956).

When asked what he considered to be the best part of his life, he responded “working together with the love of my life (Isabel) to bring my dreams to reality.” This included the successes of his 7 children to whom he provided top-notch educations at Glenlyon, St. Margaret’s, Norfolk House and University preparatory schools in Victoria and then Appleby College and Queens University in Oakville & Kingston, Ontario. He was pleased with the accomplishments of his university graduates: Roxana, a lawyer; James, an engineer; Fraser, a commerce graduate and his philosophy graduate, Ian who now lives with his young family in the Philippines.

Despite setbacks including the recession of the 1980s he never faltered. After leaving RCAF in 1956 he brought his young family (two children had been born by then) to Dawson Creek in northern BC to help his parents Esther & Jim in the family business (McKenzie Stationers). After six years he had learned the business from the ground up . He and Isabel decided to bring the family (now numbering 4 children) to the milder climate of Victoria in 1964.

Together they bought Monk Office Supply) which he almost single-handedly brought “back to life“; grand-daughter Caitlin now runs the family business over 60 years later.

He and Isabel bought an island (Mckenzie Island) in Shawnigan Lake-a convenient summer holiday destination only 45 minutes north of Victoria. That property remains in the family to this day.

In 1970 they bought a beautiful heritage house known as Valrose (3125 Uplands Rd.), which was the first house in the new Uplands subdivision in 1910 when the house was built. That house remained in the family until 2018 when Ron’s son-in-law passed away. Isabel & Ron‘s daughter, Roxana, resided in the family manse with her husband Sidney for a quarter of a century and raising two of Ron’s grandchildren there.

A fun fact about Ron: his favourite day was April Fools day. He could play tricks on everyone with impunity. He loved to meet people. His charisma was one of his greatest assets.

He spent his retirement years (1993 until 2015) in Malaga, Spain living his dream of travelling the world with Isabel. These included trips to India, Argentina, Brazil, North Africa, Yugoslavia, Greece and all of Europe including England. He had taken his eldest children on their first overseas “tour” when they were only 13 &14 years old. An erudite and well-read man, he loved to educate himself. Travelling the world was one of his means of accomplishing this end.

Having raised three sons and a daughter (born from 1954 to 1960) he and Isabel adopted three more sons in 1979. They were aged 5, 6 and 7 years old. Ron took great pride in his youngest, Julian, who now lives in Vancouver with his young wife Andrea and their two children Grace (11) and Logan (4)

Ron was a City of Victoria council member for eight years and ran for mayor of the city in 1990. He was very careful with the city budget that was entrusted to him.

Volunteer “extraordinaire“, the list of his contributions to the city of Victoria and to people in the province of British Columbia is a long one: Rotary, TAPS (Together Against Poverty Society), Junior Chamber of Commerce, Vanier, Boys and Girls Club, Goodwill Society as well as donor to many important causes including our synagogue at 1861 Blanshard St.

A loving man, he spent time travelling with his children and it was always important for him to donate to any cause that would support them and their interests. He was the GREATEST story reader to his 10 grandchildren.

May his memory be for a blessing. We love you dad!

Written December 5, 2021

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