Obituary: Bob McKenzie

Posted at 3:23 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 17:23:41-04

Bob McKenzie, 82, of Bozeman died on March 21, 2022, after a long battle with Lewy Body Disease and Parkinsonism.

Bob was born in Albany, Georgia, to loving parents who died before their time. He was raised by his aunt and uncle, who shared their family and gave him the gift of both a brother and a sister. He grew to become the southern gentleman he was through their upbringing.

Bob attended Emory University and received his Medical degree. After finishing medical school, he completed a two years residency at Grady Hospital in Atlanta and was then drafted into the Navy. He spent the Vietnam War stationed on Guam, treating the war injured and local children. After his service, he headed west to Denver, Colorado, where he finished his residency and pulmonary fellowship. He then opened a pediatrics practice and met the love of his life, Kerry Reif, in a ski line at Vail. They were married in 1973 and had many adventures skiing, traveling, kayaking, and more.

In 1980, Bob became a father to Brittany and his priorities shifted from tennis, off-road jeeping, kayaking, and bike racing to being a wonderful dad. In 1981, shortly before the birth of their second daughter, Erica, the family moved to Bozeman, where Bob and Kerry shared a job at Montana State University as physicians at the Student Health Service. Moving to Bozeman and opting for part-time professional positions with summers off gave them the opportunity to pursue adventures and family time—frequently partaking in the offerings of the outdoors and creating a charmed childhood for their girls. The family traveled, skied, hiked, camped, and windsurfed, creating wonderful family memories. He spent hours at Canyon Ferry, teaching many of Britt and Erica’s friends to water ski and supported their sporting interests by coaching and refereeing. In 2006, Bob retired because of symptoms from his disease. After retirement, he volunteered for Hospice and pursued bow hunting, sailing, and traveling.

Bob was known for his kind and gentle soul, his infectious smile, and his joy of life. He will be greatly missed by many: his wife of almost 50 years, Kerry, his daughter Brittany (husband Donny and grandson Reif), and his daughter Erica (partner Ben), his Georgia and Minnesota family and countless friends.

A Celebration of Life will be held this summer. In lieu of flowers, Bob would have loved donations to be made to the Davis Phinney Foundation, whose goal is to support those with Parkinson’s Disease to live an active and full life.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. []