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David Cameron Mackenzie

Died: September 3, 2009

Dave was unique among his classmates. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, when he came to a fork in the road, Dave took it. And to quote his wife, Elsie, “Life with Dave was an adventure.”

Dave was the son of a senior naval officer, and so lived in a number of places. He first entered Yale in 1959 from the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland. After a two year stay, he left and joined the Marines. It was the early Vietnam era, and Dave was slated to go, but the Marines decided that Lance Corporal Mackenzie was better suited to teach electronics at a base in San Diego. Dave re-entered Yale, changed his major to economics, and graduated in 1966. While at Yale, however, he became a legendary figure. Not only was he older and perhaps more worldly by virtue of his Marine Corps experience, he was also the spiritual and enthusiastic Captain of the Timothy Dwight Tang Cup team for three straight years in the spring contest with Silliman College.

Dave married Elsie Oliver in August following graduation and began a business career. However, due to alcoholism, the marriage broke up. Dave triumphed over alcoholism through Alcoholics Anonymous, recognized his spiritual side, got himself straightened out, and remarried. The couple had four children, two sons and twin daughters.

His spiritual journey led him to attend seminary at Trinity School for Ministry. He was ordained an Episcopal priest and served in emergent churches in Falls Church and Portsmouth, Virginia, then later in the Pittsburgh area. He wrote a book at that time about his alcoholism and marriage, and how he survived the first and resurrected the second.

Dave’s life journey took another turn when he and Elsie purchased a run-down ranch in Wyoming, in the Shoshone National Forest a short distance from Yellowstone Park. He continued in the ministry, but he added dude rancher to his many life adventures. After many years of work, the ranch in Dubois, Wyoming was ready for visitors. Dave delighted in being host, trail guide, hunter, and outfitter. One writer for a trail-riding magazine called the ranch, named Mackenzie Highland, “a hidden secret,” stating he was reluctant to have such a wonderful place discovered and thus shared.

Unfortunately, the last turn in his road was when he suddenly became ill, and his large spirit could not withstand it. He died in Salt Lake City on September 3, 2009. May his restless soul rest in peace, and secure in the minds and hearts of those that knew him; looking back, there are those among us that wish we had stayed in touch to witness the later turns in the path that his life took.

Thank you to Elsie for sharing many details of Dave’s life.

Deane Waldman remembers:

First classmate to die — Godfrey and I remember him well and with fondness

I have difficulty thinking of a Yale reunion without Jolly Green Giant (David Mackenzie) and Otis (Troupe).

Frank Schoeman remembers:

I shared an apartment with Dave and his TD roommate, whose last name I forget, in the summer of ’63 when I felt I needed to earn money with a campus job at the radio carbon dating lab. It was an experience, given his being older, and, having been in the Marine Corps.