Etta Orlene McKenzie

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Etta Orlene McKenzie, 97, passed away peacefully on May 11, 2020, at Brookdale Assisted Living in Fort Smith with a daughter by her side.

She was born in rural Arkansas in Buckville. She loved growing up in the hills of Garland County and spending time with the many members of her family. She loved nature and was an avowed supporter for protection of the environment. Upon graduation from Lakeside High School in Hot Springs, she began a 15-year career as a switchboard operator for Southwestern Bell Telephone in Hot Springs, Rogers and Blytheville. When she and Ernest settled in Blytheville, she became very active in her community. She was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Blytheville for over 60 years and held many volunteer positions within the church. She loved her city and was active in PTA, Beta Sigma Phi, Junior Auxiliary and The Women’s Club. She had a keen interest in and followed local, state and national politics. She was devoted to her husband and two daughters and was a talented and innovative cook.

She was preceded in death by her parents, James Franklin and Parthena Meredith Pitts; her husband of 59 years, Ernest Leroy McKenzie; her sisters, Ruby Eula Pate, Inez Pitts; and brothers, William Thurman Pitts, James Junius Pitts and Grady David Pitts.

She is survived by Kathleen Joy Priakos (Bill) of Fort Smith and Elizabeth Ann Ashby (Rusty) of North Charleston, S.C.; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

The family is grateful for the caring staff of Heart of Hospice, the wonderful staff of Brookdale Assisted Living and Sindee Snipes, whose loving presence was such a treasure.

A private graveside ceremony will be held Saturday, May 16, at 10 a.m. followed by a memorial service at First Presbyterian Church in Blytheville at 11 a.m. The family will receive friends Friday evening from 5-7 p.m. at Cobb Funeral Home. Following the State of Arkansas COVID-19 guidelines for the visitation, no more than 10 people are allowed to gather inside of Cobb Funeral Home at one time and practice social distancing, keeping a six-foot distance between one another. Face masks are strongly encouraged. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to First Presbyterian Church of Blytheville or to a charity of your choice. Condolences may be expressed to the family at