William Thorburn McKenzie (1930 - 2019)

Service Information
Stewart Family Funeral Home - Tyler
7525 Old Jacksonville Highway
Tyler, TX
Monday, Sep. 2, 2019
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Stewart Family Funeral Home - Tyler
7525 Old Jacksonville Highway
Tyler, TX 75703

On August 27, 2019 William Thorburn McKenzie reached the finish line of a remarkable life well lived. We give honor and praise to God for the life of Bill, a man we adored as a brother, husband, father and grandfather. Bill's personal faith in Jesus Christ was the cornerstone of his life. We are confident we will see him again in heaven.

Bill was born in Kerrville, Texas to Alex and Margaret McKenzie on July 15, 1930. The family moved to Tyler in 1935 where Bill attended Gary Elementary, Hogg Jr. High, and Tyler High School, graduating in 1947. Bill began college at Spartan Aviation School in Tulsa and graduated from Oklahoma University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1951. He met his wife Sharon in 1950 while working at Young Life's Star Ranch in Colorado. They were married in Tyler on October 6, 1956 and started a life together of 62 years. Bill and Sharon raised their three children in Dallas before returning to East Texas.

Through involvement with Young Life, the idea of camping as a ministry took root in Bill's heart and mind. He founded Pine Cove Christian Camp and Conference Center in Tyler in 1967 on property owned by his parents. God grew this seed into a multifaceted program including youth, family, and inner-city camping, encompassing 11 camps throughout Texas and South Carolina. Pine Cove was the love of Bill and Sharon's life, and watching the ministry draw many people to Christ as Savior gave them immeasurable joy and excitement.

From an early age, Bill was enthralled with airplanes. He built models, studied aviation, soloed a week after his 16th birthday and earned his pilot's license shortly thereafter at Tyler Pounds Field. He graduated from college on a Friday night and started his job at General Dynamics in Ft. Worth the following Monday as a propulsion engineer. His love of airplanes continued for his entire life. Bill enjoyed a ministry called Angel Flight, using his airplane to transport cancer patients to their treatment centers. Bill served on the board of Tyler Historic Aviation Memorial Museum for 6 years.

Besides aeronautics Bill ventured into real estate development as a second career. He developed vacation retirement communities in East Texas--Holly Lake Ranch, Lands' End and Lake Fork Ranches.

Bill was an elder at Grace Bible Church in Dallas and a member of Green Acres Baptist Church after returning to Tyler. He and Sharon taught a young couples' Sunday school class in Dallas for many years and had a passion for marriage ministry.

He was a lifetime member of the Dallas Salesmanship Club. He served on the Tyler Park and Recreation board and many other Christian boards such as the Dallas Leadership Prayer Breakfast and Central American Mission. Five years ago, Bill took great joy in writing the book Live For What Out Lives You. This was written in response to people inquiring as to the beginning of Pine Cove.

Bill is survived by his loving and faithful wife, Sharon and his children: Jill Chesnut and husband Doug, Allison Maurer and husband Darin, Stephen McKenzie and wife Rica; grandchildren: Taylor Chesnut and wife Jordan, McKenzie Killgore and husband Case, Catherine Calvillo and husband Joe, Margaret Vaughan and husband Wilson, Christopher Maurer, John Maurer, Ashley Maurer, Will McKenzie and Matthew McKenzie; three great-grandchildren: Jackson, Louise and Tucker. Bill is also survived by his brother Robert McKenzie and was preceded in death by his parents.

Visitation will be Monday, Sept. 2, 2019 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Stewart Funeral Home, 7525 Old Jacksonville Hwy.,Tyler, TX 75703. A private family burial will be followed by a celebration of Bill's life and home going on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, 11:00 a.m. at Green Acres Baptist Chapel. Dr. David Dykes and Mario Zandstra will officiate under the direction of Stewart Family Funeral home. Pallbearers will be grandsons, Taylor Chesnut, Christopher and John Maurer, Will and Matthew McKenzie and grandsons-in-law, Case Killgore, Joe Calvillo and Wilson Vaughan.

If desired, donations may be made to Pine Cove, P.O. Box 9055, Tyler, TX 75711, Green Acres Baptist Church's music department , 1607 Troup Hwy., Tyler, TX 75701, or The Hospice of East Texas Foundation, 4111 University Blvd., Tyler, TX 75701.

Published in Tyler Morning Telegraph on Sept. 1, 2019
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