Robert Mackenzie Obituary
In Loving Memory of

Robert Bruce Mackenzie

1949 ~ 2022

Obituary of Robert Bruce Mackenzie

Rob stood out in any group: first by his size, matched by his bonhomie, infectious enthusiasm, forceful views freely but never aggressively expressed, openness, friendship, commitment to family, love for a good time, and his laughter as much at himself as with others.

Always fully charged with energy and enthusiasm which transferred to all those around him. Hard to say if he ever had any self-doubts as he projected perennial optimism. With Rob, anything and everything was possible – it could and would be done.

Born and raised in St. Catharines, Rob started to make his mark early—in sports, school politics, and friend to all. He was an outstanding Little League goalie (an early Ken Dryden given his size), played Legion Baseball, high school football champion and City All-Star basketball player. Late in his athletic career he took up rowing and stroked the Western University varsity crew to several OUAA championships, including in his freshman year.

Driven by a desire to be involved and contribute, Rob was President of Oakridge Public School Student Council, Prime Minister of Sir Winston Churchill’s School Parliament, and President of the University Students’ Council at Western University from 1971 to 1972. A major accomplishment he was particularly proud of was the construction and opening of the University Community Centre at Western, a project he championed, first as V-P of Finance then USC President.

While President, Rob put his business degree on hold. Upon completion of his term as President, he returned to the Ivey Business School to complete his MBA in 1973.

At that point, Rob’s continued desire to serve pivoted. Rather than pursuing politics or a business career, which would have seemed like a natural extension to many, he entered the diplomatic service.

Over a 37-year career, he served our country with the utmost dignity, integrity, and enthusiasm. His business acumen, political sensitivities, and affability brought an expertise and genuine personal touch to numerous trade issues and Team Canada missions. He also inspired and mentored hundreds of junior officers and colleagues, staying in close contact with many of them over the years.

He proudly represented Canada with postings in Puerto Rico, Chicago, Prague, London, Raleigh, Beijing, and as Consul General in Buffalo and Shanghai. Though not to forget Ottawa winters and repetitive French lessons.

Rob was blessed with a marvellous close-knit family, of which Sandi was clearly the boss. Together Rob and Sandi were a formidable team. Devoted to one another from their courtship days in Chicago, Rob married the love of his life on April 26,1980 in Charlevoix, Michigan. Their dedication to family came first and foremost, but this diplomatic ‘Team Mackenzie’ represented Canada as well with a deep commitment to serve.

Predeceased by his mother, Errol (Grosch) Hall, stepfather, Glenn Hall, and father, Robert Bruce Mackenzie. Survived by his loving family, wife, Sandi, daughter, Alexandra Zaveri (Nisschal), sons, Radley (Sarah Burgess), Tait, Michael (Becky Crabbe), grandchildren, Khiana & Dhrishaan Zaveri and brother, Ted (Judy Anga).

The Mackenzie Clan was and remains outgoing and welcoming, striving for the epitome of hospitality. Their Grand Bend cottage was a special place for Rob and family. From his childhood days there with his grandparents, it was always seen as a permanent open house and gathering place for family and friends (including for his USC Executive Team with his ‘President’s Chair’ in tow). In fact, their home, wherever they lived, was always a pied-à-terre for visiting travellers.

Rob left his mark and will never be forgotten. We are all better for having had him in our lives. In keeping with his wishes, cremation has taken place.

In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara or the May Court Club of St. Catharines would be appreciated. Information regarding a Celebration of Life for Rob will be announced.

Service Information

There are no upcoming public services scheduled or the service has occurred in the past.

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John Sloan
8 months ago

Sandi and family,

I wish that I could be with you on March 18 but West Kelowna is a long ways away from Niagara. All my thoughts and sympathies are with you.

Many people thought that Rob was a bull in a china shop. He was a bull in a china shop, but he was also one of the most practical, empathetic and solutions-oriented person I ever had the pleasure to work with.

Rob and I would save the world, two, maybe three times a day. He was Executive Assistant to Gerry Shannon, Deputy Minister of International Trade and I was Senior Departmental Assistant to Pat Carney, Minister for International Trade. Bob Wolfe, EA to Sylvia Ostry, was the occasional third member of our little cabal. This was the time of the original Free Trade Agreement with the USA and the ongoing softwood lumber dispute and tensions between the office of the Minister and the Deputy were palpable and real. So it fell to us underlings to keep the machinery going and the Department running. And therefore we ended up saving the world a couple of times a day for a year and a half.

Rob could be boisterous but he was also thoughtful and could always see the bigger picture. He was someone who acted, but only after considering all the options. He was supportive and rarely wrong in his appreciation of a situation. Like me, he had to anticipate what next would go wrong and be on top of it. It was probably the best introduction to how a government really works that either of us would receive.

Rob will be missed and remembered. He was very special.

John Sloan
West Kelowna, B.C.

Robert Dery
9 months ago

Sandi and family, I was sorry to hear of Rob’s passing. I served with him in Chicago and we remained good friends and our path crossed many time during our careers. When he was Consul General in Buffalo and I was In Minneapolis. When I visited Shanghai with a training team, Rob and Sandi were involved in a great Christmas celebration for the Canadian Community. We then worked together again at H.Q. in Ottawa before my retirement. Rob was always cheerful and had the right timing to diffuse a tense situation. the great attendance at his retirement party in Ottawa was proof of how appreciated he was by his colleagues.

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Al and June Poole
1 year ago

We were very sorry to hear of Rob’s passing. I enjoyed working with him for three years in Chicago and then crossing paths many times during the rest of our careers. His enthusiasm and cheerful demeanour were contagious and many times brightened my day. He cut a broad swath and will be missed by many.. Sandy, I always appreciated the work you did for us in your consultant days including one project catering to a difficult minister. We want to offer our most sincere condolences for your loss.

M.R. (Mitch) Vlad and Deborah Moriarty
1 year ago

We are so very sad at the loss of someone who should have been with us forever. Rob was a favourite since that day in 1985 when I walked into his External Affairs office for an interview. The session was as unconventional as was the man, who hired me on the spot. I like to think he was a good quick judge of character, but he simply said he had worked with people like me in Chicago and that I wouldn’t disappoint. I spent the rest of my career as a colleague and friend who tired hard not to.. Rob was very proud to share Sandi and his entire fine family with his friends. So very unfair that they lost this wonderfully exceptional man. We miss you, Rob.

Ken Caunce
1 year ago

Sandi and Ted and family:
Much sadness in Edmonton tonight, knowing a magnificent cousin has passed. Municifent blessings to you all. Tough to lose that charm and incredile creative joy he shared with everyone. Much love.

Keith and Barbara Bradley
1 year ago

Deepest sympathies Sandi on the loss of a real live-wire life partner. Both of you helped make our stay in Beijing both productive and fun. We treasure warm memories of our times together.

Dick Grant
1 year ago

I was part of Rob’s entourage in those early 70s at UWO and co-chaired his campaign for president of the USC. I participated in many of those Grand Bend retreats and was one of the ‘bearers’ in that picture of The King in his executive chair in Lake Huron. I may even have been the instigator of the theft of the chair, but I’ll deny that if accused. The obit captured the man I remember perfectly. Well done. We have lost one of the greats. My deepest condolences to Rob’s family and friends.

jean-yves dionne
1 year ago

We were sadden to hear of the passing of ” big ” Rob, an exceptional working colleague.

Nos sympathies les plus sincères à la famille.

Jean-Yves Dionne et Lucie Tremblay/ Saint-Sauveur, Qc

Monica Siig Heron
1 year ago

Dear Sandi, I read with great sadness of Rob’s passing and offer you and your family my deepest sympathy. I have many good memories of you and Rob, over the years, such as arriving in Hong Kong for the boys’ hockey tournaments. Rob’s humour and brilliance were so well known and I will always remember his friendship. I hope your happy memories of him will help to support you and your family in this sad time, Monica Heron

Richard Kohler
1 year ago

Dear Sandi and Mackenzie clan, Edwina joins me in expressing our deep sadness at the news of Rob’s death. For me as a trade commissioner, Rob was a role model, a legend. The obituary has perfectly captured his numerous qualities and joie de vivre and sense of humour. Rob will be sorely missed. Wishing you strength as you adapt to this great loss. Rick and Edwina Kohler

Bob & Karen LeBlanc -Almonte ON
1 year ago

We were both surprized and sadden to hear of the passing of Rob. Have many fond memories of both he and Sandi during our days at the Embassy in Prague. Will raise a pivo in your honour Rob. Rest in peace.
Our heartfelt sympathy to Sandi and to the MacKenzie family.


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