Jim and Mayu McKenzie fell in love with Crystal Cove years ago, and spent many nights in the historic beach cottages with their children. When Jim passed away unexpectedly last year, his family asked that donations be sent to Crystal Cove Alliance in lieu of flowers. Every time a donation came it, our team would gather around and read the notes that came with them. They told the story of a loving husband and father, a friend and co-worker who always came through. And they told the love story of Jim’s family and Crystal Cove.
One friend wrote “May your wife and sons find a sense of peace in the rhythm of Crystal Cove’s waves.” Another, “In memory of Jim McKenzie, a fellow Crystal Cove lover.” Another wrote, “I worked alongside Jim and greatly appreciate his insight, humor and friendship.” Still another, “In memory of Jim McKenzie, who left us October 8, 2016. He always loved being at Crystal Cove.”
Jim’s family also shared treasured memories of the Cove with us, including the time they found lost pirate treasure. From Jim’s wife, Mayu:
One of the greatest things Jim did for the boys was make up a story about a peg-legged pirate who’d hidden his gold doubloons somewhere on the beach at Crystal Cove. Jim left a map in a bottle on the beach for the boys to “find” and a great scavenger hunt ensued. He hid clues everywhere – with the bartender at the Bootlegger, with the staff in the check-in office. He had the boys go to 30 different places. At the last stop, they found a treasure chest full of gold coins.
Oh, they loved it. And they truly believed his story. I still have the map and bottle, I’ll show it to you when I see you.
When they stayed at the cottages, Jim always took the boys for a nighttime walk to the cliff’s edge. He made their shadows “big and funny” with a flashlight. They loved listening to the frogs at night along the creek and loved having friends join them for grilling. Jim always packed too much – board games and baseball gear, boogie boards, kites and metal detectors – the stuff memories are made of, and sometimes, it looked like he’d packed the whole house.
We were so honored to be a part of Jim’s memory and felt privileged to be able to share these messages with his family as more than 50 donors gave nearly $5,000 in honor of the McKenzies’ Crystal Cove love story.