Evelyn MacKenzie, children’s nurse, care home worker and B & B proprietor has died aged 87.
Born in Kildrummy on October 28, 1933, she would spend her life in the service of others.
Following in the footsteps of her mother Laura, who was a nurse prior to marrying sawmill operative Robert Bruce, Evelyn – better known as Evie – would go on to train in paediatric nursing.
One of nine children, she would also be shaped by a bustling home life.
Though her sister Muriel died in infancy, Evelyn grew up with brothers Robert, Bruce, George and Alan and sisters Charlotte, Bertha and Dorothea.
Kildrummy Primary and Alford Academy provided her formative education before she began her career at Aberdeen Sick Children’s hospital.
Age 21, in 1954, her general nursing training began in Inverness where she had placements in multiple Highland hospitals and developed her passion for caring for others.
Stepping into marriage
A dance hall in Drumnadrochit would be where she would meet her other great love, Donald ‘Donnie’ MacKenzie.
In 1954, Donnie – who turned 90 in May – was a mechanic and out with friends when he met the young Evelyn.
Daughter Lynn Stockall said: “I couldn’t be certain if it was love at first sight but they certainly had some romantic moments.”
None more so than the couple’s engagement.
In 1955, having persuaded her to climb the 287 steps of the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, Donnie popped the question at the top then whisked her off to buy a ring in the capital city.
The pair wed in 1957.
Evie and Donnie went on to have one daughter, Lynn Stockall, who was born in 1963.
Lynn is married to Fraser and she has two children from her first marriage, Liam MacDonald, and his partner Eilidh, and Janis MacDonald, who married Matty Wojtunik just last weekend.
Sadly, Evelyn wasn’t there to celebrate Janis’ wedding.
“It was bitter sweet,” said Lynn. “My mum’s whole life circled around looking after and loving the people close to her. She was a miss, that’s for sure.”
Bed baths to ‘bed and breakfast’
Working in Raigmore Hospital, Evelyn would continue paediatric nursing into her 40s before finishing her time as a nurse in the York Ward – later called Colter’s Ward – of the Royal Northern Infirmary of Inverness.
When Lynn was a child Evelyn also did shifts at Belle Vue nursing home but she really came into her own when she and Donnie, who was still working in the world of motors – although now in sales, would buy a large house on Kenneth Street, Inverness with ambitions of running a small guest house.
“She absolutely loved the ‘B and B’,” said Lynn.
“She prided herself on good, traditional hospitality.”
And traditional it certainly was.
The Whins, while becoming incredibly popular with loyal guests who formed friendships with the MacKenzies and returned time and again, would by modern standards come as quite a surprise to guests how the establishment was run.
“She wouldn’t give out keys,” Lynn said. “‘This is my home and if people want to stay here they won’t need a key’, she’d say. And they must have liked it because firm friendships were built between mum and her guests, some even came to her funeral.”
A lady of routine
Known for her cooked breakfasts, Evie would run a tight ship, relying on a strict routine to manage family and work life.
“Every day was planned with a kind of military precision. She could come across as firm and even a bit stern but really this was the exterior to what was going on inside: a drive to look after people as well as she possibly could.”
When not kept busy with the guest house Evelyn’s hobbies included walking – always choosing ‘on foot’ rather than by bus or car, shopping for bargains, baking, knitting and sewing.
She was also an avid fan of Countdown, watching it daily if her busy routine allowed.
Evelyn was a member of East Church, Church of Scotland, Inverness.
A service celebrating her life took place at John Fraser and Son, funeral home, Inverness.