Lou Ann McKenzie, 86, of Fort Stockton, Texas, passed away peacefully on Feb. 13, 2021, in Houston, Texas, surrounded by family and her grand-dog Gigi. Lou Ann’s passing was on the same date as her mother, Ione Lowry, 35 years earlier.
Lou Ann Lowry was welcomed into the world by her parents, Lloyd George Lowry and Florence Ione Booles Lowry, on Sept. 10, 1934, in Weatherford, Texas. Lou Ann was the middle child, with two older brothers, Bobby and Billy, and three younger sisters, Margie, Linda, and Lynn.
Lou Ann grew up in Weatherford, graduated from Weatherford High School, and was a majorette in the Weatherford High School band. Growing up in Weatherford was fun, and Lou Ann loved it. Her childhood days with her friends and their shenanigans were a good source for the great stories Lou Ann later shared with her daughters Marsha and Melanie. They loved hearing her stories on many late nights. Lou Ann was a night owl on the weekends, and so were her girls. Weatherford was special to Lou Ann, and in her adult life, she visited her family frequently with long, fun summer visits.
After graduating from high school, Lou Ann attended Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, where she was one of the band’s three majorettes. While there, she also enjoyed working at a radio station. One serendipitous weekend while at Tarleton, Lou Ann met Gregg McKenzie. She fell head over heels in love. To be closer to Gregg, Lou Ann transferred to Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, for summer school while Gregg worked nearby on his family’s ranch. That summer was filled with fun dates, and many memories were created. Gregg and Lou Ann were married on Jan. 11, 1955.
After they married, Lou Ann and Gregg moved to Germany, where Gregg served in the U.S. Army for 18 months. They lived with the Henckels, who became good friends. While in Germany, Gregg and Lou Ann traveled with other couples on weekends, creating many exciting stories later shared with Marsha and Melanie - adventures in Germany, Italy, France, and Switzerland. Lou Ann loved skiing in Switzerland. There was a debate as to whether she or Gregg was the better snow skier.
Several months before the conclusion of Gregg’s military service in Germany, Lou Ann became pregnant with their first child. As they attempted to board the plane home, the airline and military did not allow Lou Ann and Gregg to board because they did not have the required health certificate and checkup due to her pregnancy. As it turned out, however, their unborn child Morris Scott saved their lives - the plane on which they were to travel crashed over the Azores.
Once they made it back to the U.S., Lou Ann and Gregg returned to help with the McKenzie family ranch in Fort Stockton, Texas. Lou Ann pursued her studies at Sul Ross, and obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, graduating with honors. She loved college, but she loved teaching even more, teaching eighth grade history in Fort Stockton for 33 years. Lou Ann never missed a day of school. Teaching was her passion, and she received many honors and awards for her service. She was also a valued member of the PTA and a member of the Band Aiders.
In addition to teaching, Lou Ann enjoyed scripting and casting plays and skits with her students. During the 1970s, Lou Ann spent hours after school, working on entertaining productions that tied in with American history. She loved spending the extra time with her students.
Living on Dees Street in Fort Stockton was special to Lou Ann. She loved every member of the Dees Street Gang. With frequent iced tea visits, pageants, parades, plays, and birthday parties as regular as events, there was never a dull moment, and pure fun was had by all.
Gregg and Lou Ann had shared passions, especially ranching. They also loved night lighting, taking trips to El Paso, Mexico, and Lake Amistad, and visiting until late hours. Most important to Lou Ann and Gregg were their children Marsha, Melanie, and Morris Scott who sadly died during childbirth.
Lou Ann and Gregg cherished their summer road trips to Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, Louisiana, and New Mexico with their girls. A favorite trip was to their granddaughter Suzanne’s wedding in Las Vegas, Nev. Lou Ann and Gregg chose to drive from Fort Stockton to Las Vegas. They loved road trips that much.
After Gregg passed away on Sept. 9, 2013, Lou Ann committed herself to keeping the Bar M Ranch going. With her organizational skills, she did an excellent job, and she enjoyed the whole ranching business. Above all, she loved being at the ranch. It made her feel close to Gregg. She was grateful for Keith Morrison, her ranch foreman, and when Keith left for another opportunity, she was pleased to have Robert “Bobby” Morrison as ranch foreman. During the past few years, Lou Ann was thankful for Bobby’s calls, visits, and updates. She also appreciated Larry and Janice McKenzie for their guidance in ranching programs and their fun visits.
Lou Ann wishes were to personally thank all of her friends and family, including Doris Chamberlain, Robert Huckaby (deceased), Isela and Armando Ramos, Brett Magee, Irma and Ricardo Rojas, nephew Alan Young, niece Linda Webb, nephew Larry McKenzie and wife Janice, Houston and Laura McKenzie, Lydia May, Sara McKenzie, Marcena O’Malley and family, Kalli O’Malley and Terry Giles, Pat Sturman, Heather and Josh Pass, Shelley Hamilton, Tanya and Bryan McKenzie, Tina Frazee Svajda, Linda and Joe Shuster, Rachel Ramos, Sandy Jenson Hill during Lou Ann’s rehab stint in Midland, Rhonda and George Luera, Valorie and Kelly Mahler, Cheri Addicks, Vida Hodges, Pete and Betty Hickman, Steve Bobbitt, Manny Espino, Gail Greenfield, Clark Carpenter, Sue Mooney, Ann and Randy Hurt, Beverley and John Linskey, Shauna Steffen, Kay Lynn Kuper, Jay and Jackie Smyre, Cade and Ollie Schneemann, Raul and Judy Espino, Linda and Don Kinnamore, and many more, for being there for her, and checking in from time to time.
The older she got, the fewer of her family and friends were around, and Lou Ann so appreciated having company. Many may not be mentioned here, but you know who you are, and Lou Ann was so appreciative of you. To Brett Magee: Mom loved the meals, flowers, and visits.
Lou Ann was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Fort Stockton. She appreciated Dr. Jim Miles and Ann Hurt for their prayers and spiritual support over the years.
Those left to honor and cherish Lou Ann’s memory are daughters Marsha Riggs and her husband Mel of Midland, Texas, and Melanie McKenzie O’Malley and husband Kevin of Houston; granddaughters Suzanne Riggs Liscum and husband Jason of Houston, and Lauren O’Malley and husband Jake Woodward of Houston; grandsons Zane Riggs of Midland, and Keller O’Malley of Seattle, Wash.; great granddaughters Vivian Liscum of Houston, and Genevieve Riggs of Midland; sister Linda Kinnamore and husband Don of Weatherford, Texas; and many nieces, nephews, and friends.
Lou Ann was preceded in death by her husband Gregg McKenzie, parents Lloyd George and Ione Lowry, son Morris Scott McKenzie, sisters Lynn Lowry Nolte and Margie Lowry Young, brothers Bobby Lowry and Billy Lowry, and nieces Robin Young and Joann Ratcliff. Lou Ann was also preceded in death by her mother-in-law Mary Lea Thomson McKenzie, and her brothers- and sisters-in-law.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute to your favorite charity, or pass on a nice secret act of kindness to a stranger or friend. We all need each other.
There will be a private graveside burial service in Fort Stockton where Lou Ann will be laid to rest next to her husband and son. There will be a memorial service at a future date. The family thanks you for your love and prayers.