Robert "Bob" Alexander Mackenzie, Sr. was born October 2, 1898 in Grand Rapids, Michigan to John Alexander Mackenzie (McKenzie) and Mertie Estelle Meade. He was the first of two children, having one brother named Kenneth.
Before Bob married, he attended Chicago Art Institute and became a commercial artist. He worked in Detroit, Michigan and then later became a co-owner of Fawn Art Studio in Cleveland, Ohio.
Before color photography was available, color advertisements that were placed in magazines first had to be done in watercolor. As an example, this is what would occur in a bus commercial. One of the men in the studio was considered a specialist in lettering and would do the lettering. Another man would do the painting of the bus. Bob would do the landscape and people. It was then sent to the magazine publisher.
At one point in his career, Bob was asked to join the fledgling Walt Disney Company, but he did not do so. He frequently had watercolor entries in art shows in the Cleveland area, such as the May Show which was a juried show. Some of his paintings were also then sent to New York for viewing.
Gertrude "Trude" Staude Williams married Robert in Chicago, Illinois about 1927. They had two sons. Trude and Bob spent their retirement in Payson, Gila County, Arizona. He became a westerner in dress and actions. They built a house in Whispering Pines, which was northeast of Payson off the Houston-Mesa dirt roads. In the early days, a car could go only fifteen miles an hour on those roads. It would take thirty to forty-five minutes to get to the house once you left the highway for the dirt road, depending on the condition of the road that day. They bought a four-wheel drive Toyota and spent a lot of time pulling neighbors' cars out of ditches.
Bob was very skilled with his hands. He used to perform magic tricks with coins for his grandchildren. He also carved very intricate walking sticks that his grandchildren loved to use on a hike. Frequently, when the family would visit, Bob and Trude would take them on hikes into the forest. Everyone loved to look for fossils and artifacts. Bob used to carve pocketfuls of Indian arrowheads and then drop them out of his pockets so the grandchildren could "find" them. It wasn't until the grandchildren were older before it was discovered that their grandfather had carved them himself.
Bob and Trude also spent many months making a ventriloquist doll for one of their grandchildren. He actually made it so the eyes could move and the mouth would open. It was a favorite toy for many years.
Bob loved to garden. They had a garden at the bottom of their hill. When it came time to prepare dinner, Bob and the grandchildren would go to pick some vegetables. He'd always stop along the way and cut a piece of rhubarb for each of the grandchildren. He loved to eat it like a celery stick. One of his other great loves was lemon drops. Whenever he went to town to go to the grocery, he would buy a bag of lemon drops to share.
Bob was also a very good chess player. He and one of his sons would play for hours and discuss any new moves they had learned. It was only a rare occasion when any of the grandchildren could beat him in a game.
On May 31, 1979, Robert Alexander Mackenzie, Sr. died in Payson, Gila County, Arizona. He was 80 years old at the time and was survived by his wife, two sons, and four grandchildren.
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Created: 29 Apr 2001
Modified: 27 Aug 2001
Copyright © 2001-2003, Jennifer Volker