“A man of boundless creativity”
John Stuart McKenzie 48C, an editorial cartoonist for the Emory Wheel, editor of the 1948 Campus yearbook, and later an Atlanta print executive, higher education consultant, master calligrapher, and longtime friend of Emory Magazine, died November 10, 2005, at the age of eighty-three.
McKenzie was fond of introducing himself by saying that he earned a degree in journalism from Emory in 1948 and “the following year Emory abandoned journalism.” (The journalism program actually survived until 1952, and it returned to Emory in 1997.)
Tall, silver-haired, with an ever-present, wry smile, McKenzie was widely known among members of the art, journalism, education, and print communities in his adopted city of Atlanta. Among friends, he is remembered for his distinctive calligraphic signature, self-deprecating humor, and his annual Christmas card, which featured his burgeoning family that over the years grew to include his wife, Virginia Lee Brown McKenzie, four children, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
As vice president of the Stein Printing Company, McKenzie served as print representative to Emory Magazine—and mentor to its staff—for more than a decade in the 1980s and early 1990s. All told, his affiliation with the magazine spanned some forty years.
A native of Canada, McKenzie moved to Atlanta as a teenager in 1939, enrolling first at Georgia Tech and later at Emory. Unable to join the U.S. Air Force during World War II because of his resident alien status, he served as a Royal Canadian Air Force bomber. He later became a naturalized U.S. citizen.
McKenzie had a short-lived career as an editorial cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal prior to beginning a fifty-year association with the print industry. In the 1950s, he helped launch a fund-raising campaign to save what is now the Atlanta College of Art and chaired the school’s board of directors. McKenzie was a lecturer and consultant on periodical design for both the American Alumni Council and its successor organization, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. He served as president of the Art Directors Club of Atlanta, chaired the board of the Printing Industry Association of Georgia, and was a founding member of the Atlanta Friends of the Alphabet, a calligraphy guild for which he selected the name. He was chosen Georgia printing’s Man of the Year in 1972.
With Paul Massey, McKenzie was co-founder of the Georgia Printer Magazine, for which he wrote a light-hearted column, often poking fun at himself.
“I’ve known three geniuses in my life, and John was one of them,” Masssey said. “He just had boundless creativity, and ideas flew from his mind like sparks. When you were around him, you were immediately aware that this was a different kind of man.”—A.B.