Born to Elizabeth Ella (Mills) and Lester Jones on East 1st Street in Fort Worth, TX, Mary “May” Katherine (Jones) McKenzie, from an early age was immersed in a lifelong and reciprocal relationship of support in the Christian communities of Mt. Gilead, Ebeneezer, and Mayfield Missionary Baptist Churches. As a lifelong member of Mayfield, she was honored to sing in the choir, serve for many years as President of Vacation Bible School, was honored with being the oldest member of the church (age and membership), and was part of the Mission Sisters baseball team, among many other accolades and services to the church. A champion of education in any form, Mary began her lifelong pursuits of formally harnessing an incredible and bountiful intelligence at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Wichita Falls, TX at the young age of three. She graduated with a diploma from Fort Worth’s I.M. Terrell High School at fifteen, and later in life attended Tarrant County Junior College to explore her interest in music. Mary possessed artistic talents that she expressed through writing music, hymnals, and poetry inspired by her life experiences. She worked as a homemaker, editor for Ebony-Mart magazine, and cashier at Safe-Way. She retired after serving fifteen years as a distinguished Passenger Service Agent at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (winning a service award in 1989) and meeting many famous personalities. Mary Katherine was blessed with a large and loving family. She married Delaney Johnson McKenzie Sr. on April 22, 1945. The ceremony was held at her mother’s house on Amanda Street in Stop Six. The couple had five children together. Mary raised her family with wit, discipline, and self-sacrifice and encouraged her children to explore the beauty of God’s Word, accepting the various avenues her family traversed in their paths to serve Him. She encouraged her family to read, write, and graduate high school. Mary also valued traveling and often took the family on trips to visit relatives and friends from east to west Texas. Beyond her native Texas, Mary traveled internationally to Nassau, Bahamas, and Germany. She also frequented California and Illinois for leisure and family business, never meeting a stranger anywhere she went. Mary participated too in bowling leagues. As the Stop Six neighborhood griot, Mary kept the pulse of the community and knew the history of her own family and those around her. She was always connecting people. In September 1985 she started the annual Stop Six Heritage Day, and she was the last surviving original member of the I.M. Terrell Alumni Choir. She volunteered in the Alphin Charity and Art Club of the Fort Worth Association of Federated Women’s Clubs. Their slogan, “Lifting as we climb,” certainly was embodied by the effort and work Mary dedicated to this group of empowering women in their communities. She won the Phenomenal Woman of the Year in 2002, and served as Chaplin of the club. She was instrumental in trying to save Bunche Park. Mary was also a lifetime member of the NAACP. Mary was kind, generous, and wonderfully made for family, friend, neighbor, and stranger. She was courageously concerned with community matters on local and national levels. An “ordinary woman used by God,” she is dearly missed by her loved ones, who celebrate her remarkable life and final peace within the arms of her Creator. Mary is survived by her daughters, Katherine B. and Lawrence Phillips, Clara McKenzie, Mattie McKenzie, and Anna Samples (Bennie – deceased). Her grandchildren, Christopher G. McKenzie, Anazogini A. and Kevin Kubeer, Toya Mary Okonkwo and Aaron Navid Dahm, Aaron M. and Vania McKenzie, Stephanie and Cody Smith, Alexander William Phillips, Frederick Thompson, Jared McKenzie, Jasmine Angelika Phillips, Bryce Samples, and Brianna Elizabeth Samples. One great-grandchild, Casey McKenzie, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and close friends. She is preceded in death by her parents, her ex-husband, her son, Delaney Johnson McKenzie Jr., siblings, Dorothy Jones Livingston, Clara Bell Jones, Frederick Douglas and Sephora Jones, Claude and Olus Jones, Lester and Hilda Jones, and Emory Lee Jones and many more aunts, uncles, and cousins whom she loved dearly and are sure to welcome her with loving grace. Wake and funeral services to honor the illustrious life of Mary Katherine McKenzie will be held with the assistance of Williams Funeral Home at Mayfield Baptist Church, 2101 Amanda St., Fort Worth TX 76105. The wake is Friday, 16 June, from 6:00pm – 7:30pm. The funeral will be on Saturday, 17 June, at 11:00 am. The family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Universal Hospice, 1208 Country Club Ln, Fort Worth, TX 76112.
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