Walter McGill McKenzie ~ 1 January 1938 - 12 April 2020
Walter McKenzie Eulogy ~ by Thomas Chalmers
Walter McGill McKenzie was born on the 1st of January 1938 with the result that his birthday celebrations always coincided with New Year’s Day.
Walter was a gentle-man and a contented man with a calm demeanour and a broad smile. He was essentially a quiet man who led a quiet life until he met and then married Margaret McPhater on the 22nd of October 1988. Margaret (or Marguerita as she is better known) brought light and laughter to Walter’s life and they enjoyed more than 30 years of marriage together in Kelvin Gardens, Kilsyth.
Walter was an only child who lived with his parents on Shuttle Street. After leaving Kilsyth Academy, he had the opportunity to become an apprentice bricklayer and this was to be a trade in which he would become highly skilled, developing his craft over many decades with a variety of companies.
Towards the end of his career Walter took pride in teaching bricklaying skills to college students across North Lanarkshire. But throughout his life he took an avid interest in architecture and housing developments, always interested in their construction. ‘Walter built Walls’ - and took a pride in laying every brick. He would often say that any construction should look ‘pleasing to the eye.’ This was his word of advice for anyone undertaking any job; that it should be pleasing to the eye, and his workmanship always lived up to his own high standards.
As well as being a former member of Kilsyth Probus Club, Walter enjoyed absorbing himself in discussions on current affairs, politics, and the church. In more recent years he took great pleasure from his daily newspaper, normally the Herald, as well as The Scots Magazine and the Church of Scotland’s Life & Work magazine, reading them all from cover to cover.
In his earlier years he enjoyed driving and hillwalking as well as sailing from Helensburgh with his lifelong friend, the late Ian Chalmers, although they eventually sold their yacht (called Anitra) when it became apparent that Walter suffered from acute seasickness. Thankfully though that didn’t stop Walter from heading out to sea again on many a cruise with Marguerita.
Walter was an active Elder in Kilsyth Burns and Old Parish Church as well as a member of the Fabric Committee until the debilitating onset of Multiple Sclerosis prevented him from dispensing his duties. The illness continued to undermine his physical capability until he became housebound and then bed-bound in Craig en Goyne Nursing Home, Kilsyth. But he accepted the deterioration in his health with great dignity, hardly ever complaining and always comparing himself to those less fortunate.
Around 15 months ago Marguerita joined Walter in the Nursing home where they enjoyed one another’s company every day, eating meals together and watching television as though they were still living in their own house. Speaking of which Marguerita’s nephew Duncan McPhater Senior, fondly recalls that he and his family always enjoyed having Christmas dinner with Walter and Marguerita after which they would all play many a competitive game of charades.
Marguerita is still resident at Craig en Goyne Nursing Home, but, sadly, has health issues that prevent her from joining us today.
Walter was a beloved husband, a brother-in-law to the late Malcolm and Myra McPhater, a cherished uncle and great uncle, a cousin, and a dear friend. He succumbed on Easter Sunday which will always be a poignant reminder of his passing, in the same way that New Year’s Day was always a celebration of his life. I’m sure we would all agree that Walter lived a life that was pleasing to the eye, of everyone who knew him.
Minister's Personal Thoughts ~ Rev Bob Johnston
Some people feel that these unusual times have made funeral services a pale skeleton of what they were. I disagree. A false assumption has been made that more and more needs to be added all the time to make them meaningful. I disagree.
We meet today to say farewell, for the moment, to Walter McKenzie, one of Burns & Old’s Elders. As we have heard Walter was for some years a resident in Craig-en-Goyne Nursing Home, afflicted by MS but never beaten by it. He always said that all his problems were from the waist down. Apart from being unable to walk all his other faculties were absolutely fine.
I always found him to be very happy and stoic about the situation, which must have been frustrating for an active man who had been a bricklayer and builder.
But no. When I visited he would set aside his newspaper and just blether. His wife, Marguerita, visited most days of the week, and, before she was admitted herself to the same home, her safety was a worry for Walter.
When you’re a member of Burns & Old you’re a member for life (and beyond), and Walter’s friends and colleagues from the Church visited regularly.
There were a couple of times in hospital with those infections that the bed bound are prone to but the Craig-en-Goyne team kept him well and happy, and our gratitude goes out to them. It takes so much worry off our shoulders knowing that our people are being well looked after.
So we can’t come together in the Church today and yet here we are, a great many of us, to say goodbye to a friend, a faithful Elder and a servant of the Church. God speed Walter until we see you again.
And I can't do better than to close with a description Thomas Chalmers gave me of his late dad, Ian’s, lifelong friend, Walter McKenzie.
Walter is a gem of a man.
The Bricklayer ~ read by Mary Paterson
The bricklayer laid a brick on a bed of cement,
Then with a precise stroke of his trowel,
spread another layer,
And without a by-your-leave,
laid on another brick,
The foundations grew visibly,
The building rose, tall and strong to shelter people,
I thought, dear Lord, of that brick buried in the darkness at the base of the building.
No-one sees it, but it accomplishes its task and the other bricks need it.
Lord, what difference does it make whether I am on the roof-top
or in the foundation of your building.
As long as I stand faithfully at the right place.
by Fr. Michel Quoist