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