Silsbee mourns loss of beloved community man

Silsbee is remembering a man killed on Labor Day as someone whose generosity touched many lives.

Vernon Mckenzie, 56, was electrocuted Monday while installing utility lights outside his trailer in the 8200 block of Sunflower.  Sparks from the accident caused a brush fire that burned about an acre of land.

The smoke was still rising from the rubble Tuesday.

Friends say Mckenzie was once a homeless man who rode his bike from business to business looking for small jobs. Those small jobs earned him little money that he did not just spend on himself. He always remembered his friends.

A friend of 40 years visited the accident site Tuesday. Glenda Hollyfield tells 12News that site was Mckenzie's home and she would go there to bring him food and help with laundry.

Hollyfield said she spoke to McKenzie just hours before the accident.

"I spoke to him yesterday on the phone about two hours before I heard this," she said.

Hollyfield wears a faith-based bracelet from Mckenzie around her wrist.

"He'd just always buy gifts and he was just a good guy all the way around," she said.

Sharon Welch also holds a special gift from Mckenzie close to heart.  He once gave her an ornament for Christmas.

"He saved up all his money and what he worked for. He bought me a little ornament for Christmas and I still have it to this day. It is so sweet," Welch said.

It's the little gifts that they'll forever cherish from man who treated all equally.

They both say Hollyfield always put others first.

Hollyfield says Mckenzie was diagnosed with stage three Leukemia.

She said his doctors had ordered that he not ride his bike anymore. So, instead, he walked from business to business visiting his friends.


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