Robert was preceded in death by his parents, Robert McKenzie and Jeannetta McKenzie (née Sullivan). He was the loving brother to Ann Jane Canogar (née McKenzie) and uncle to Susana (César), Daniel (Rebecca), Diego (Cecilia), and Roberto (Pilar). He was also a dear friend to many throughout the world.
Robert was born on March 31, 1940 in Glendale, California. As a young boy he suffered from polio, but after treatment he made a full recovery. He attended St. Robert Bellarmine Elementary school and Herbert Hoover High School, where he became class president in his senior year. With his friends, he enjoyed surfing the local beaches in Los Angeles. In 1958, he went to Stanford University where he studied physics and also participated in the study abroad program, “Stanford in Germany.” In one of his years at Stanford, Robert was a Resident Assistant in the Freshman dorm. As a gift of appreciation, the residents gave him a bible and he decided he would read it for the first time from cover to cover that year. After college, he worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Robert later decided to enlist in the U.S. Army and was stationed in southern Alabama at Fort Rucker.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Robert moved back and forth between Europe and the United States. He took courses in Theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome and later at Holy Apostles College in Cromwell, Connecticut. During his time as a pilgrim in Europe, he often interacted with Bishops, Cardinals, and members of the Roman Curia, not to mention personal encounters with three Popes. He was fortunate to attend many of Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body Wednesday audiences in person. Robert also liked to walk to pilgrimage sites. He walked from Lisbon to Fatima at least three times! In Coimbra, Portugal, he even had a brief interaction with Sister Lucia!
Returning to the States, he spent time as a master craftsman and working construction in New Haven, CT, Colorado, and Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, he also worked at St Gabriel’s Home for Boys. It was at this time when Robert developed his “system” – a year by year method of forming young boys/men using scripture, which was tailored to the age of the boy and was meant to help them through their experiences that year. It was also at this time that he began thinking of establishing a Catholic Technical Institute, where “men may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight, receive instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity” (Proverbs 1:2-3). He envisioned training youth to achieve excellence through the Scientific Method with a special emphasis on Calculus and practical training in crafts and employable skills (i.e., auto repair, carpentry, and teaching), while also growing in philosophical and theological thought.
In the 1990s, Robert moved to Scottsdale, Arizona and continued work as a master craftsman, also briefly teaching Chemistry at Ville de Marie Academy. His life was nourished as a daily communicant and daily adorer of the Blessed Sacrament. The depths of his devotion to the Blessed Virgin permeated everything he did and it was rare for someone to leave his presence without having received a Miraculous Medal! He truly lived the motto of “Totus Tuus” and rarely had a conversation without a rosary in hand. Those who had the opportunity to have met him will never forget him. He was a beautiful and loving man of God, a brother, an uncle, a dear friend, a wandering apostle of the streets, whose soul longed for union with the hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Anyone who knew Robert could tell many stories of his adventures. However, “were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25).
A Rosary and Funeral Mass will be offered at 3pm on Friday, May 24th by Fr. Thaddeus McGuire at St. Daniel the Prophet Church (1030 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85257). The burial will be at 10:00am on Saturday, May 25th at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery (2033 N 48th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008).