Bruce Claybourne McKenzie
Bruce Claybourne McKenzie died on Wednesday (March 18, 2015) at home in Georgetown, Ind.
He was born Jan. 28, 1952, in Urbana to Bruce L. and Rosalind Deffley McKenzie. He was known for his honesty, integrity, work ethic and compassion. He loved nature, music, riding motorcycles with his friends, and being with his family.
Bruce graduated from Champaign High School in 1970 and from Parkland College in 1974. He began his career as a carpenter and as a contractor in remodeling projects in Champaign.
In 1979, he relocated to Louisville, Ky. There he continued as a carpenter, then transitioned to food service including time as a restaurant manager. Bruce then began a long career in concrete supply, retiring from W.R. Grace Concrete Division as an additive specialist in several central states in the admixtures program.
Bruce entertained many hobbies and interests. Earlier he enjoyed traveling. He toured much of the United States. Bruce enjoyed visiting the tropical climes of Jamaica and Hawaii, and in Europe, Scotland and Switzerland were his favorites. His nephew Shannon shared his love of travel and the two would compare notes about the American Southwest.
Bruce loved feeling the breeze in his face while riding his Harley through the picturesque countryside, especially with his cousin Mark and friend Dave. He particularly enjoyed rides through the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains but especially near his beloved southern Indiana and Kentucky.
Bruce possessed a keen awareness of the old and the new, and loved collecting old tools, especially hammers and planes, and studied the development of tools across the years. Bruce’s Uncle Harry shared long talks on a number of subjects, including railroading and steam engines. Music was another of their favorite topics.
Bruce grew up in a musically gifted family and music was one of Bruce’s main interests. Bruce appreciated a wide range of music genres ranging from blues, classical, and country, to rock, bluegrass, and mountain music. He enjoyed festivals and music events that he and his friend Charlie attended. He played several instruments including guitar, banjo, and clarinet and accumulated an extensive library of musical recordings. His collection of backstage passes for numerous bands is a testimony to his wide-ranging interests and his niece Sara and nephew Steven truly treasure the hours they shared listening to music and creating memories with their uncle.
Bruce enjoyed target shooting and spending Sunday afternoons at target ranges with friends. He enjoyed camping in eastern Kentucky near West Liberty and the Colvin Hollow area and at the Robinson, Illinois area with his friend Rick and their group.
Bruce had a well-developed sense of nature, identifying most any wildlife by its call, tracks, or by sight. From his front porch he watched the deer and wild turkeys, and other wildlife that crossed his property to his brook. He especially shared these interests with his Aunt Eleanor.
Bruce was a lifelong advocate of the University of Illinois. He held Chief Illiniwek in great reverence.
Perhaps those who knew him best will remember his compassion, and willingness to listen, and his strong hands and strong, gentle voice that supported them. His nieces and nephews looked to him for friendship and advice. Several times a week a family member chatted with Bruce. He and his cousin Greg and friends Angel and Rick spent many hours to solve the world’s problems. He looked forward to the times he hosted his family for celebrations at Easter or Christmas or throughout the year. Gentle playing with and nurturing of nieces and nephews were loved and valued by all.
Bruce leaves behind his sister Carolyn McKenzie Still (Steve), Hilliard, OH: nephews Steven (Faith) Still, Champaign, IL; Shannon (Jennifer) Still, Highwood, IL; nieces Stephanie (Kevin) Stockton, York, PA; and Sara (Jason) Crawford, Chicago, IL, and eight great nieces and great-nephews. Bruce leaves twelve cousins. He leaves two aunts, Eleanor Deffley Santos and Eleanor Smith Deffley, and one uncle and aunt, Harry K. and Barbara Deffley. Bruce left many close friends.
Bruce has been dearly loved by his family. He gave many hours of attention, affection, and guidance to all in his family. He was tireless in helping make life more joyful. His sister and brother in law and all his family and friends will forever be grateful to have had him in their lives.
Many years ago, Bruce shared with his niece, Stephanie, the song he wanted to have played at his funeral. It was a Stanley Brothers arrangement of an old hymn:
My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run
My strongest trials now are past, my triumph has begun
Oh bear my longing heart to Him who bled and died for me
Whose blood now cleanses from all sin and gives me victory
Oh come Angel Band, come and around me stand
Oh bear me away on your snow white wings to my immortal home
—From the hymn “My Latest Sun Is Sinking Fast”
by Jefferson Hascall, 1860
William Batchelder Bradbury, 1862.
Rev. Kenneth A. Cox will officiate the service Wednesday, March 25, at 11 a.m. at Faith United Methodist Church, 1719 S. Prospect Avenue, Champaign, Illinois.
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 24 at Heath and Vaughn Funeral Home, 201 N. Elm Street, Champaign Illinois.
Internment will be at Grandview Memorial Gardens, 4112 West Bloomington Road (Route 150 west), Champaign, Illinois.
Online condolences may be offered at www.HeathandVaughn.com.
I went to high school with Bruce, but didn’t get to know him until our 40th high school reunion.
At that time I smoked and my husband and I went outside to have a cigarette. Bruce was sitting on a bench outside by himself and we went over and sat down beside him. I can’t remember what we talked about; I think his motorcycle and life in general.
I do remember him telling us about what he liked in music. At that time my husband and I owned a bar in downtown Urbana that had live music. It was such a pleasure to get to know the man.
I was pretty shy in high school and if Bruce talked to me then I would have probably walked into a wall stammering — he was so cute. I’m glad I got past that shyness and was able to talk to Bruce.
I was so looking forward to our reunion again this summer. Really looking forward to seeing Bruce again.
It is always hard to look at the reality of someone no longer being there. But this opens the door for seeing all the times in the past that have left memorable pictures and events that made knowing that person a true value in one’s life. Bruce, you were always there for us and I have so many memories of our times together. Especially when mom and I came to visit you and your beautiful property in Indiana. You made Mom feel so good and she and I were in awe of the front porch and sitting and talking and looking for those wondering animals through your property. You are missed already and will never be forgotten because you left an indelible print on my life.