Sam McKenzie: A proud father

Marvin Westwestwords

Most fathers find considerable satisfaction in the success of their sons. So it was for the late Sam McKenzie. His boys made him proud.

In the spring of ‘81, Sam very likely missed a half day of work from one of his two jobs to see his twin gladiators stand up and be recognized.

Raleigh and Reginald McKenzie of Austin-East High School were student-athletes of the year in the Knoxville Interscholastic League. They were recognized at a luncheon at the S&W Cafeteria. I was there. I presented the awards, probably engraved plaques.

I remember thinking it must cost a lot to feed two young men that size. I didn’t know about young son Sam. I suppose he ate well, too.

Indeed, the boys made their dad proud. Raleigh and Reginald were outstanding students. They turned out to be very good football players. At Tennessee, Raleigh was a center and Reggie was an outside linebacker. They started as seniors.

Both played in the NFL, Raleigh for 16 seasons. Reggie got out early to become an executive. He is now general manager of the Oakland Raiders. Raleigh is a scout.

Young Sam did OK. He served eight years on the Knox County Commission and is an operations manager for Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Mr. McKenzie liked the fact that all three earned college degrees. He had one, from Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State College. One of his jobs was with the Tennessee Department of Human Resources (for 34 years).

Mr. McKenzie died last week at age 82. The family will visit with friends on Wednesday, 6-7, at Mount Olive Baptist Church. A funeral service will follow. Burial will be Thursday at 1 at Highland Memorial South.

The NFL team acknowledged the loss: “The Raiders family is saddened by the passing of Sam McKenzie Jr., father of Reggie and Raleigh McKenzie. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Raider Nation are with the family.”

Likewise, from many others.

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