In Memory of Greg McKenzie
Gregory Alan McKenzie
December 15, 1947 – June 24, 2023
Gregory Alan McKenzie peacefully received his angel wings on June 24, 2023, at the age of 75, in Olathe, Kansas. He will be remembered for his unwavering love of family, friends, faith and profession.
Born on December 15, 1947, in Champaign, Il., to the late Buck and Mary McKenzie, Greg was the second of four sons alongside his brothers Steve, Pat and Jeff. He grew up in Oklahoma City and throughout his life always carried a deep devotion to his Oklahoma roots and community. He leaves behind his greatest loves, his wife of 46 years, Reeny Kelly McKenzie, daughter Ashley Pelton, her husband Garrett Pelton, and four grandchildren, Peyton, Owen, Greyson and Everett, all of Olathe, KS.
A life-long Sooner, Greg received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma (1969). During his time at OU he pledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity in 1965 and was honored to serve as the President of the Oklahoma Kappa Chapter in 1969. His passion for SAE was unmatched and the friendships forged with his SAE brothers were still going strong for well over 50 years. The bonds built between this group of true gentlemen were some of the most special in his life.
Greg earned his Juris Doctor from George Washington University (1972) and then went on to gain legal experience as the Deputy Defender General and Deputy Attorney General for the State of Vermont. Upon returning to Oklahoma in 1981, he joined his father in practicing oil and gas law at Watson and McKenzie Law Firm. Greg then founded and was Principal of McKenzie, Moffett, Elias and Books from 1987-1997 and then represented himself as Gregory A. McKenzie, PC, from 1997-2014. His legal background and accomplishments during his 40-year long career as a trial lawyer were almost devoted exclusively to complex oil and gas disputes. He concluded his career as counsel in the Oklahoma City office of Crowe & Dunlevy as a member of the Energy, Environment & Natural Resource Practice Group.
Work was Greg’s passion. He reveled in using his gift as a skilled litigator to prevail in every case he handled but one, and that, said he with resign, was due to a “technicality.” Behind every trial was Greg’s intellect, work ethic and meticulous preparation regardless of midnight oil burned or weekend hours sacrificed. Greg McKenzie was widely recognized and respected throughout the industry.
Greg met Reeny while working in Vermont and the two married in September 1976. Opposites in many respects – Greg the preppy, upwardly mobile lawyer; she the northeast girl – they enjoyed a lasting partnership built on friendship, trust and unconditional love. Daughter Ashley was born prior to the family returning to Oklahoma and she forever became the center of her parents’ universe.
“Most important to me in this world are Reeny and Ashley,” Greg would often say, later proudly updating the statement to include grandchildren. Grandfather Greg took the initials of his name and proudly declared himself “Gambo.” Every day, Gambo expressed his love and pride for his family, as if he couldn’t tell them enough. He completely adored his grandchildren and being in their company made him happier than anything. They were the light of his life and being their Gambo was the most prestigious title he ever held.
Greg embodied many things, including devotion to the University of Oklahoma in general and Sooner football in particular. He harbored a love of history, spending countless hours tinkering on a never-published book about Ireland. Greg was a prolific letter writer, often extending kind words to friends and family. Greg enjoyed movies and had a green thumb for gardening that was second to none. Notorious for his sweet tooth, the family would sometimes hide treats intended for gatherings. He would say “the sun won’t set until Gambo has a bowl of ice cream.”
Greg and Reeny embraced Ashley’s wide circle of friends from the time they were in kindergarten. Greg cared deeply for “the girls” and clucked over their wellbeing as if they were his own daughters. Literally for decades, the always-welcoming McKenzie home was the go-to gathering place for this extended family, with Greg always going all-out to cater to the needs of his beloved guests.
A man of contagious joy and cheerfulness, Greg enjoyed being the frequent source of random acts of kindness and gift giving. His actions were often spontaneous, but always with thoughtfulness, empathy and sincerity. Greg never met a stranger, and when he did meet someone for the first time, he was eager to learn everything about them. He had a knack for storytelling and a conversation with Greg was good for the soul.
Greg’s catholic faith was a tremendously important part of his life. He found great comfort and guidance through Christ and was the epitome of a devout Catholic. His life was one that was filled with abundant happiness and was lived well. Greg McKenzie reveled in making people happy and to feel good about themselves. His love for family notwithstanding, a life lived with such divine spirit will be his most lasting legacy.
A rosary will be held in his honor at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 30th at Smith & Kernke Funeral Home at 14624 N. May Ave in Oklahoma City. The funeral mass will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 1st at Christ the King Church at 8005 Dorset Dr. in Nichols Hills. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his honor to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.