Remembering a Champion of the NVSO and a Gold Medal Volunteer, James Murdock MacKenzie, Jr.

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RSVP-Northern Virginia would like to extend its deepest condolences to the family and friends of James MacKenzie,Jr., who passed away July 5, 2019, at the age of 65.

Several staff members from RSVP as well as many of our volunteers  had the incredible good fortune and pleasure to work with Jim who was chair of RSVP partner The Northern Senior Olympics for several years. Jim also held other positions on the NVSO board and was the event director for the NVSO swim competition, one of the largest events at the annual senior games held each September since  1982.

Jim MacKenzie, left, works with fellow NVSO board members Pete McGuirk and Janet Garber during opening day of the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics

As you look at the photos on this page taken at various NVSO events by  volunteer photographers over the past years, it is hard to find one in which Jim was not wearing his infectious smile. He rarely left home without it.

Being chair of the NVSO, like leading any nonprofit board, is a very demanding responsibility.  Jim was adept in managing the many personalities that make up this volunteer run organization. As chairman,  Jim ran a steady ship, never turning down a request for help.

The NVSO had perhaps its largest turnout in its then 35-year existence during Jim’s final season of being chair in 2017. The NVSO which began in 1982 with roughly 80 participants was approaching 1,000 competitors in 2017.

In addition to being on the board, Jim was also an enthusiastic  competitor. Taking part in many events including Wii bowling. Here Jim accepts a gold medal in 2018 from the Wii Bowling event director and fellow board member Carol Mackela.

In addition to being on the board, Jim was also an enthusiastic  competitor, taking part in many NVSO events including Wii bowling and Yo-Yo.

The contributions that Jim made to the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics alone would fill up most people’s scrapbooks, but when you read Jim’s obituary, you will find that his dedication to helping other seniors to “live healthy longer” is only part of his volunteer story.

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Jim delivers opening remarks during the opening ceremony of the 2017 NVSO in Arlington as then Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol looks on.

Among Jim’s accomplishments : 

• He was 2015 inductee to the Hall of Fame at Quantico High School as a three-sport athlete and leader.

• At the U.S. Naval Academy, he lettered as a varsity swimmer. Diagnosed with advanced stage Hodgkin’s disease in his youngster year, he endured grueling treatments while maintaining pace with his classwork and professional duties. He  graduated from the Naval Academy in June of 1975 as a member of the 24th Company, and was commissioned as an Ensign.

• Jim was active in youth athletics in Northern Virginia as a long serving swimming and soccer coach. He was the team representative for the Little Rocky Run Swim Team and served as the head coach for swimming and Diving at Centreville High School in Fairfax County.

• In addition to being chairman of the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics Committee from 2014 to 2018. He remained an active competitive swimmer as a member of the Fairfax Masters Swim Team and completed the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, a fundraiser for the Maryland Chapter of the March of Dimes, four times.

The impact that Jim’s volunteer work has had on the community and on local sports will be felt for generations to come. He exemplified the the true spirit of volunteerism and giving back.

Jim will be dearly missed by all who knew him and by all who were lucky enough to volunteer with him.


According to Jim’s obituary, his  family will host a visitation at Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home, 9902 Braddock Road, Fairfax, VA 22032 on Tuesday,  July 23, 2019 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM and from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

A funeral service will be held at the United States Marine Memorial Chapel, 3251 Embry Loop, Quantico, VA 22134 at 10:00 AM on July 24, 2019. Interment with military honors will follow at Quantico National Cemetery.

Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the following:

• The Quantico High School Alumni Scholarship with a check payable to “QHS 1963” mailed to Susan Dutton Woythaler, 19 Baldwin Rd., Middletown, RI 02842

• The United States Naval Academy Swim Team with a check payable to “NAAA” annotated with “Swim Team” in memo line, mailed to NAAA, Terrence McGowan, 566 Brownson Road, Annapolis, MD 21402.

Jim, left and 2019 NVSO board chair Roger Webb pose with their gold medals after competing the 2018 NVSO yo-yo competition.




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