Vern Smith McKenzie, 81, of Cedar Rapids, passed away Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, at West Ridge after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Per Vern's request, there will be no services. Teahen Funeral Home and Cremation Service is serving the family.
Vern is survived by two sons, Andrew McKenzie and Scott (Fatema) McKenzie of Cedar Rapids; and five grandchildren, Trey, Kyla, Grace, Peter and Joshua.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Marilyn, who passed away in 2009; and daughter, Jeanine, who passed away in 1994.
Vern McKenzie was born Nov. 9, 1938, the son of Dwight and Elizabeth Smith McKenzie in Indianapolis, Ind. After graduating from Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, Vern attended Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., from 1956 to 1959. In 1962, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. While attending Ball State, he met Marilyn June Tisdel, and on July 15, 1961, they were united in marriage in Marilyn's hometown of Sturgis, Mich. Following Vern's graduation, the couple moved to Constantine, Mich., where Vern taught mathematics and science and served as assistant track coach at Constantine High School.
In 1964, the family moved to Woodbury, Minn., where Vern worked as an engineer for the Toni Co. and UNIVAC. Later he was a quality control supervisor at the 3M Company. He served as a state Jaycee officer for the Minnesota Jaycees. In 1970, Vern won a national Jaycee Award for his work in international programing. In 1974, he was named to serve on the Woodbury City Planning Commission. He also served as Cubmaster for Cub Scout Pack 319 in Woodbury.
In 1975, the McKenzies moved to Forest City, where Vern worked as a quality control engineer for Winnebago Industries. Vern served as publicity chairman for Forest City's annual Frontier Days in 1976 and as Santa Claus to deliver toys to needy children in the Winnebago-Hancock County area. He also was assistant Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 18 in Forest City.
In 1978, the family moved to Cedar Rapids, where Vern was employed as manager of quality assurance for Midland Forge. He wrote the company's first quality assurance manual, which later became the blueprint for its ISO 9000 system certification. He later became responsible for safety, environmental compliance and training. Vern and Marilyn became active members of the Jefferson Band Parents Association and helped with many band activities, as well as chaperoning the band on trips. In 1981-82, Vern served as president of the Jefferson Band Parents.
Vern was an assistant Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 33 in Cedar Rapids and went with the troop on high adventure trips to Rocky Mountain National Park, the Black Hills and Wisconsin. In 1981, he was awarded the Scout Leader Key. He was actively involved with the State University of Iowa section of the American Society for Quality (ASQ), Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) and Certified Quality Manager (CQM). He served as president of the section in 1985-86, chairman of the annual Quality Conference in 1987 and 1997, and speaker at the 1999 Minnesota Quality Conference. In 1999, he was named a Fellow of the American Society for Quality at the ASQ National Conference in Anaheim, Calif.
In addition to his work with the ASQ section, Vern taught classes in quality engineering and quality management through Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids and Black Hawk College in East Moline, Ill. He was the section scholarship chairman and coordinated the eight scholarships among the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.
Vern retired from Midland Forge in 2001, but stayed on as consultant for its ISO 9000 program, including updating its quality manual and teaching classes for internal quality auditors.
During retirement, he attended to various "honey-do" projects around their house. With Marilyn, he traveled to Minnesota, Upper Michigan, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to cheering on the Minnesota Vikings, Vern enjoyed grilling steaks and being with his sons and grandchildren.
Memorials may be directed to the family.
Online condolences can be left at www.teahenfuneralhome.com.