McKenzie Franklin passed away on January 08, 2014, an Inpatient at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. Pulmonary Embolism and Congestive Heart Failure were cited as having caused his death. Born October 18, 1938 in Americus, Georgia, McKenzie was raised by parents Ken Franklin and Daisy Holmes in Gary, Indiana.
At age 17, with a GED from Roosevelt High School, he entered the United States Air Force and became a Reserves Paratrooper. He received specialized training in building cockpit ejection mechanisms and Para shoot engineering for fighter aircraft and bombers. McKenzie was stationed in Greenland and several U.S. states (Georgia, Texas, Ohio and Maine) for a two year period before leaving the service with Honorable Discharge. While stationed in Ohio he was two-time light middleweight boxing champ, winning Cincinnati Gloves and All Air Force accolades.
In 1962, he headed west for sunnier climates and settled in Berkley California. After working for Pacific Inflatable Company (commercial airlines) in San Francisco, he began developing new career positions for youth in Contra Costa County (Senior Trainer for the Richmond New Careers Program), until being offered a staff position at U.C. Berkley where he worked as an Assistant Personnel Analyst. McKenzie's dedication to volunteer, social work, and counseling in the Bay Area spans more than a decade. Helping troubled youth, their families, and improving community health was what he called his best suit'. Though officially titled Assistant Coordinator of Berkley Youth Alternatives Crisis Center (1973-77), he affectionately called this period a suit and tie during the day, chasin'em down the alleys at night' thing. Serving in cooperation with foster care programs, welfare services, probation departments, juvenile court and more, Mr. Franklin was a committed humanitarian.
In the summer of 1977, he and Mary Jane Freeberg moved to the Rogue Valley together and started buying, renovating, and re-selling old houses. They bought their own property in Talent and had a son, Lenwood. It was 1982 when McKenzie made Ashland his home. Furthering his gift for counseling and intervention he worked in the S.O.S.C (now SOU) dorms with college students in crisis. Among countless other endeavors, he single-handedly manned and sustained the Perfect Stroke Painting Company into his late sixties.
For Mack, Ashland held 32 years of ups, downs, and in- betweens. The scope of his experience would be as challenging to summarize as the man himself. These phrases only scratch the surface: A force of nature, charisma unmatched, man's man, lady's man, healing hands, gifted singer, ultra-competitive sportsman, coach, trainer, umpire, undisputed and undefeated barbeque sauce champion, the one to call, everybody's daddy, nobody's fool, laid back, rock solid, A SHINING SOUL.
Loved and admired by more people than you can shake a stick at, McKenzie Franklin will be dearly missed. His passing, however, was less a loss, than a victory in life! The man is, was, and always will be a CHAMPION.
A Movie Memorial will be held at the Elks Lodge (main dining room upstairs) in Ashland.-10am Saturday, February 22.