Patrick Bruce McKenzie

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Patrick Bruce McKenzie, of Pagosa Springs, Colo., passed away Nov. 18.

Pat was born to Leo Bruce McKenzie and Bonnie Marie McKenzie (Redifer) in South Bend, Ind., on March 3, 1940. He was the oldest of four children; he became the “man of the house” after his father died suddenly when Pat was a young teen. 

He was raised in South Bend and attended St. Joseph High School. Although he did not play basketball his freshman or sophomore years, he was recruited by several universities for basketball, finally settling on Kansas State after Coach Tex Winter promised him a summer job.

At Kansas State, he excelled both academically and athletically. In his senior year, he was named AP and UPI all-conference player and was voted most inspirational player by his teammates. Kansas State was very good to him as he also met his future wife, Sheila Sanders, there.

Pat was drafted into the NBA, but being an accountant paid more at that time, so he chose to go to Michigan State for a Ph.D. in accounting. After graduating, he moved his growing family to Tempe, Ariz., to accept an accounting professorship at Arizona State University. He taught at ASU for 27 years, riding his bike the 4 miles to campus almost every day.

Being a gifted athlete, he transitioned from basketball to running in his late 30s. He ran many marathons and ultra-marathons, including the Boston and NYC marathons and the Vermont and the Western States 100. He was the founder of the Zane Grey/Highline Trail 50 and race directed many ultras. He was also the aid station captain for the Hardrock 100 for 20 years, retiring in 2018.

In 1997, he retired from ASU and moved to Pagosa Springs, Colo. He joked about failing at retirement as he almost immediately went back to teaching, this time at Fort Lewis in Durango. He also did a visiting professorship at UNLV and also taught at universities in Finland and Macedonia. Serving others was a passion for him and he became a dedicated volunteer. Over the 24 years he lived in Pagosa, he volunteered with the forest service, the Cumbres-Toltec train (he always dreamed of being a train engineer), he was on the board of directors at Seeds of Learning, and in 2005 he became a deacon for the Catholic Church, serving there for 16 years. 

Even with all his volunteer work, he had time to mow a ball field into his pasture, where his family and friends would gather for a game of softball or kickball. The national anthem was always played prior to the game. He created an epic sled run for his grandkids on his property and his family spent many New Year’s Eves night sledding and sitting by the bonfire he built. Pat loved the outdoors and camping.

His sense of humor was quick and exceptional and he wanted to be Steve Martin, to the point of buying a banjo. His passion for college basketball was unparalleled and when March Madness was on, he could be found watching at least one if not several games at a time.

Pat is survived by his wife of 58 years, Sheila. His children, Erin McKenzie (Daniel Bruce), Michael McKenzie (Heather), Tina McKenzie, Theresa McKenzie. Grandchildren Nicole (Matt), Chad (Sunny), Taylor (Nick), Josh (Brooke), Cody (Shelby), Austin, Ava, Jordan and Alyssa. Great-grandchildren Marcos, Isaiah, Elias, Courtney, Tessa, Max, Callie, Abi, Olivia, Piper and Phoebe. His brother, Mike McKenzie (Wanda), his sister, Vicki McKenzie. Many dear friends and his church family. Also survived by his beloved dog, Jeremiah.

Services to be held Saturday, Dec. 11, at 9:30 a.m. at John Paul II Catholic Church, Pagosa Springs, Colo. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to these organizations that were close to Pat’s heart: Seeds of Learning Pagosa Springs or the Pagosa Springs Humane Society, where he adopted Jeremiah.