Mary Ruth McKenzie

(30 April 1937 – 15 January 2024)

We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mary McKenzie in January.

Mary came to live at St Mark’s in 1964 when her then husband, the Rev’d Malcolm McKenzie, came to the College as Chaplain and was here throughout his years as Chaplain and, from 1968, as Master, before they left the College in 1977.

Mary’s early years were in country Victoria, before attending Portland High School, where she was Head Prefect and Dux in her final year. After attending teachers’ college, she was teaching near Heywood, Victoria, when she met the new Anglican Rector of Heywood, the Rev’d Malcolm McKenzie, whom she married in Hamilton in September 1961.

After Mary and Malcolm moved to Perth in that same year, she taught at St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls, and two children, Chad and Genevieve, were born. In 1964, the McKenzie family moved to St Mark’s, where Malcolm became Chaplain. A reference from the Dean of Bunbury for Malcolm McKenzie for the position of Chaplain said: “His wife too is an excellent young person with good church experience both as a teacher in New Guinea and also a teacher of Divinity of St. Hilda’s Girls school in Perth and is a real helpmate to him.”

Mary was an avid musician, and during her years at St Mark’s, she lectured in oboe at the Adelaide College of Advanced Education, and taught oboe also at St Peter’s College, before teaching flute and oboe for the South Australian Department of Education. Family summer holidays were often spent in the outback and other country areas, which Mary loved.

The Lion of 1977, referring to Malcolm McKenzie’s departure from the Mastership of St Mark’s, said: “We can only wish him, his wife Mary, and Muffy and Chad the best of luck in the future, and thank them all for what they gave to the life of the College.” (There is a tribute to Malcolm McKenzie’s years as Master in our obituary of him here.)

After moving to Malaysia with Malcolm McKenzie (who was then serving in the Department of Foreign Affairs) in 1979, Mary’s teaching expanded to include the bassoon, which she taught for the Malaysian Ministry of Sport, Youth and Culture. She also taught oboe at Malaysian national music camps, and her performances included the inaugural ASEAN music workshop in Penang.

In 1981, Mary moved to Canberra, where she lived for the rest of her life, teaching music for many years at Canberra Girls Grammar School, and pursuing a range of other interests, including her family which grew with the arrival of much-loved grandchildren, travel, bridge, and in her retirement from teaching, massage.

A number of members of the College kept in contact with Mary over the years, and in recent years she made a kind donation of materials to the College Library which included very interesting materials relating to the Angry Penguins poets, with their strong St Mark’s links.

Mary’s family have kindly donated to the College items of St Mark’s memorabilia which Mary owned, including the framed print of the Grenfell Price Dining Hall which had been given to Mary and Malcolm by the College as a gift at the farewell dinner for the McKenzie family in 1977.

Mary McKenzie is warmly and gratefully remembered as a smart and curious person, who never stopped learning, with a fearless and adventurous spirit, and as a woman of kindness, understanding, strength, wisdom, and warmth. She was much loved.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

There is a link to Mary’s funeral service here.

Our thanks to Genevieve McKenzie and Chad McKenzie for the photograph of Mary above.