ACADEMY GRADUATION – Governor Mike Dunleavy shakes hands with graduates at the Alaska Department of Public Safety Law Enforcement Training Session 1902 graduation ceremony this afternoon at the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi. Twenty-six law enforcement officers from across the state received their badges in the ceremony and will be taking jobs as Alaska State Troopers, a Wildlife Trooper, and city and borough police department officers.  (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

“Big John” McKenzie

“Big John” McKenzie

“Big John” McKenzie, a former Sitka resident, passed away peacefully in his sleep Aug. 15, 2017, in Juneau. He was 49.
John was born May 24, 1968, in the Bronx Borough of New York City.
He came to Alaska on a processing boat in the late 1980s, and like so many fell in love with Alaska. He worked many jobs to remain in Alaska but loved cooking the most. He was a chef at Sitka restaurants, and in Juneau.
Another love was poetry, and shortly before his death he was notified he had won third place in a competition.
A few weeks ago he said that he was never leaving Alaska again and that he was going to die sober. (John had struggled with sobriety most of his life).
“Little did we know it would be so soon,” friends said. “He had been clean and sober just over a year.” 
John was preceded in death by his mother, Mary J. McKenzie, and his sister, Lisa McKenzie.
He is survived by four children, Gianna and John McKenzie of Sitka, and  Jazmin Perez and Mike Valentin, both of New York; his father, Neil “Mac” McKenzie, Sitka; sisters Linda Bailey and Tina Bailey; his grandmother, Mary C. McKenzie; and  multiple aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. 
John  had a special love for children and poetry.  Anyone wishing to honor him can make a memorial donation in his name  to the SEER School,  Box 1031, Sitka, to introduce children to the joys of poetry.

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