Judge, board attorney, friend will be missed
Many loving tributes have appeared across social media over the past few days in the memory of local attorney William H. “Bill” McKenzie III who passed away last Friday following a lengthy bout with cancer.
Bill had served as Panola County Board of Supervisors’ attorney and as Batesville’s Municipal Court Judge for decades as well as attorney for the board of Panola County Development Authority.
Few have had the connection with local government and also crime’s underbelly from his perspective. His commitment to his faith, family, and community is a shining example of life as it should be. His integrity was unquestioned.
He had the determination found in an earlier generation, that Great One that won War War II, refusing to let the illness retire him until the Lord retired him—working until his last few days on this earth.
He may be familiar to many readers as his weekly court sessions were recorded in this newspaper, often containing small quips or quotes offered to defendants by the longtime judge. Most of those words had something to do with Bill’s philosophy of “do what you’re supposed to do,” or “do what you said you would do.”
There were times for compassion such as when he would let the perpetual offender of alcohol abuse serve his sentence at a more convenient time.
He was also tasked with guiding supervisors and county officials away from bad decisions and rascality and had a wealth of information from past experience that could often put a halt to a bad plan before it was initiated.
Family was important and providing for them even more so. His three children have now become productive citizens themselves and are raising their own citizens.
Maybe his biggest contribution to society was providing for his wife Marni which has allowed her to touch not only hundreds in the local community, but unknown numbers worldwide through her lessons and/or lectures with Explorers’ Bible Study.
An avid outdoorsman, Judge McKenzie had been known to take advantage of his position on occasion. That abuser of alcohol earlier mentioned in this column was encouraged to serve his jail time during duck season as he was also known for his duck plucking ability. And he shared.
“Y’all can tip him a little something,” the Judge would tell his duck hunting friends, “But not too, much. We don’t want to spoil him.”
Friend, judge, attorney and brother-in-Christ, Bill McKenzie leaves a void and will be truly missed.