Surrounded by the love of her family, Mildred T. McKenzie died peacefully at Knife River Care Center on Sunday September 12, 2021. Milly will be laid to rest with her husband at 1:00 pm CDT on Friday, October 15, 2021 at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan, ND. A visitation service will be on Friday, October 15 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Concordia Lutheran Church and a funeral service will be on Saturday, October 16 at 11:00 am also at Concordia Lutheran Church in Beulah, ND.
Mildred was born to Melvin and Helma (Sundre) Grina in Northwood, North Dakota on December 11, 1926. She grew up in Northwood with her siblings--a younger sister, Dodie and a younger brother, Marven. She was a good student, and excelled in school. Upon graduating from Northwood High School, she attended the Interstate Business College in Fargo, ND. She developed a keen sense of business and had an intuitive understanding of numbers and accounting, a skill that she honed while in college. In her teenage years, she attended a dance with several of her girlfriends and had a chance meeting with a handsome farm boy. She married H.R. “Mac” McKenzie in Northwood on June 11, 1948. After Mac graduated from North Dakota Agriculture College, they settled into their first home in Mayville, ND. Later on, the young couple made their final move to Beulah, ND in June of 1954 and raised their family in a home they built there. Milly worked as the clerk for the Mercer County Selective Service Board until 1972. She started as the Payroll clerk at Knife River Coal Mine in 1974, retiring from that position in 1985. In 1974, she began selling Royal Neighbors of America insurance and continue to do so into the 1980’s.
Milly and Mac started square dancing in 1954, and found a hobby they truly loved. Mac was a lively and popular caller, and called square dances throughout the Midwest and Canada. Many a family vacation was spent square dancing. Milly was an active member of Concordia Lutheran Church. She was a long time member of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, and was the first woman to serve on the church council. She was named Mercer County Mother of the Year and Milly was a Charter Member of the Mercer County Historical Society, for whom she served as the secretary for many years.
She was a member of the Beulah Homemakers Club, Red Hats, VFW Auxiliary, was a 4-H leader, and served on the Mercer County Women’s Area Resource Council Board of Directors for several years. She ran for State House of Representative in 1974 on the Democratic-NPL ticket. Milly believed in being active in her community and was always eager to volunteer to help make community events successful.
Milly enjoyed watching sports and loved cheering on the Beulah Miners, NDSU Bison football, and the Minnesota Vikings. She loved to travel, and often did so with her siblings and their spouses. She was able to see 49 of the fifty states, and traveled around the country to visit grandchildren and friends. In 1981, she took a wonderful trip to her ancestral Norway with her cousin Vivian.
Milly was an engaged and active grandmother. She enjoyed keeping up with family on Facebook, and she took pride in the uniqueness and talents of each of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She attended many sports games, concerts, and dance recitals. Through every visit or event, she was an ever-observant photographer, and she leaves a legacy of thoughtfully documented and detailed photo albums for each of her family members.
Milly entered Senior Suites in Hazen in the spring of 2016. She spent the last year of her life at Knife River Care Center in Beulah. Milly’s three children provided her much love, comfort, and support in her final years with many visits and frequent calls. Mary Jo visited Milly daily, and was an amazing caretaker. Often times when Milly was asked what she wanted to eat, she would request “a fried egg made by Mary Jo.” She just made them better than anyone else did.
She was preceded in death by her husband, H.R. “Mac” McKenzie in 1973, parents Melvin, & Helma Grina, parent-in-laws Alex and Bernice McKenzie, sister Dodie Sandbeck, brother-in-law Peter Sandbeck, and sister-in-law Beryl Grina.
Mildred is survived by her three children, Vickie and Rod Helm of Park Rapids, Minnesota, Mary Jo and Kent Larson of Beulah, North Dakota, and Scott and Patti McKenzie of Missoula, Montana. Eight Grandchildren, Sarah (Matt) Kaufenberg, Luke (Louise) Helm, Rachel (Scott) Wallace, Anne (Aaron) Rosenow), Katie (Wade) Kummer, Peter (Ellen) McKenzie, Angela (Ian) McKenzie-Tucker, and Samuel McKenzie. Fifteen great grandchildren. Her Brother Marven Grina, Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Three nephews and one niece. And her special care giver-friend, Yvonne Yates of Hazen, ND.
The family would like to thank the wonderful caregivers at the Senior Suites in Hazen and the Knife River Care Center in Beulah.
Milly will be remembered for her feisty spirit, her independence, and her generous heart. She was always curious about the world around her, and learned and accomplished so much in her life. She was proud of her family, her heritage, and her home state. Milly was greatly loved by her family and her memory and her humor will be held in the hearts of many.
Arrangements are conducted by Barbot Funeral Home, Beulah and Hazen.
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