Vale Bobby MacKenzie
MANY Kinlochleven residents would remember Robert (Bobby) MacKenzie who died on 26 July 2015 in a nursing home in Melbourne, Australia.
Born on 19 September 1928 at 17 Leven Road, Kinlochleven, Bobby was the second
youngest of 11 children to John MacKenzie of Dores Inn and Maggie McIntyre Anderson McLaren of Dunphail Lodge.
The family consisted of six girls and five boys – Christina (Chrissie), Margaret, twins Jean and Ann, Alberta (Berta) and Jessie (who died in infancy), John (Jackie), Angus, Duncan, Alan and Bobby.
Most of the family were employed at the British Aluminium Company’s plant at
Kinlochleven at some time during their working lives and when Bobby MacKenzie left school at 15 he worked as an office boy for the BA.
When given the chance to start an apprenticeship as a fitter he jumped at it but two years later (1946) he enlisted in the British army with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
He completed a six-week initial training stint in Perth then was sent to England for further training.
In 1947, he was sent to Belfast and found himself regularly on guard duties.
He was only there for four months before being sent to York then Blandford in Dorset
eventually being released to the army reserve on 18 March 1949.
Various labouring jobs followed and when his official discharge from the army came through on 2 October 1950 he re-enlisted the next day.
Six months later he found himself aboard HMT Dunera heading for Japan as a prelude to a year-long involvement in the Korean War.
His final discharge from the army was on 16 April 1952.
He had started a relationship with Linda Pelman from Kinlochleven a couple of years earlier.
They married in 1953 and their only child, Craig, was born that same year.
After Bobby MacKenzie rejoined the British Aluminium Company, he lived with Linda and Craig in a council prefab at 5 Morrison Crescent, Kinlochleven for the next nine years.
In the early 1960s, Linda’s father Angus Pelman spent some months in Melbourne staying with his oldest son, Hector. When he returned from Australia he announced that he was migrating to Melbourne and that he was offering the MacKenzies the chance to migrate with him.
That offer was readily accepted and Angus, wife Mary Pelman and the MacKenzies arrived in Melbourne on board the P&O Line’s Oriana on 21 December 1963.
Two years later, the mandatory residency period for migrants expired and Angus and Mary Pelman returned to Onich.
They sold their house at 7 Connors Street, Highett to the MacKenzies who were to live there for the next 38 years.
Bobby MacKenzie worked as a process worker for various companies before joining Dunlop Batteries for 21 years mostly working in the warehouse.
His Korean War involvement played a pivotal role in the timing of his retirement.
Having been in a theatre of war alongside Australians he was able to retire when he was 60 with a pension from Australia’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Regular visits back home were now high on the agenda and Linda, Bobby and Craig returned to Kinlochleven for a three-month holiday in 1990 and toured Scotland extensively.
On Thursday, 21 November 1991, Linda MacKenzie was struck by a van when crossing the road in Wellington, New Zealand on the first day of a fortnight holiday to visit relatives.
She was in an induced coma for nine days and was passed fit to fly back to Melbourne almost two months later. A 10-month period of rehabilitation followed.
The MacKenzie family returned to Kinlocheven three more times in the 1990s but received a body blow in the late part of that decade when Linda was diagnosed with dementia.
In 2003, the MacKenzies sold up in Melbourne and relocated to Kinlochleven. That lasted for five weeks before they moved into a relative’s house in Glencoe.
They became disenchanted with the health services on offer for by now Bobby MacKenzie was battling mental illness and Linda’s dementia had worsened.
They returned to Melbourne in September 2003 to a rented flat before buying a house in Carrum Downs in February 2004.
Shortly after Bobby was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
On 15 October 2008, Linda went into permanent care at Forest Lodge in an adjoining suburb and died on 22 December 2010.
Bobby’s Parkinson’s disease worsened and severe mobility disorder forced him into a local aged care facility on 6 July 2012.
He died from heart failure after contracting pneumonia.
He is survived by Craig and sisters Chrissie, Jean and Ann.
Chrissie (now 101) and Jean are in Abbeyfield in Ballachulish while Ann lives in Wellington.
Bobby and Linda MacKenzie in the early 1950s.