Tracey Perrier McKenzie, 60, of Deep River died peacefully with her sisters by her side on Jan. 30. Born in Hartford to Robert and Jo McKenzie, Tracey was a beloved sister and devoted friend, a dedicated professional colleague, an accomplished marine scientist, and an amazing cook.
She graduated from The Loomis Chaffee School in 1979 and after graduating from Pitzer College, went on to earn her master’s degree in marine zoology from the University of Rhode Island in 1989. While completing her master’s, she worked for NOAA/National Marine Fisheries out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, spending much of her time on the development of their Northeast Region Marine Mammal Stranding Network. After many years in the private sector as a principal in Seattle, Washington-based environmental engineering firms, Tracey returned to public service as a biologist and natural resources manager for the Environmental Division at the Naval Submarine Base in New London. While at SUBASE, her duties as biologist included environmental planning and remediation management, where Tracey was credited as being instrumental in helping SUBASE near its cleanup goal to achieve removal from the Superfund National Priorities List. As natural and cultural resources manager, Tracey oversaw multiple efforts protecting natural resources (all the “flora and fauna” as her sister called it) on the base including migratory bird and marine mammal surveys. She always looked forward to their annual “Meet Your Navy Day” events, introducing visitors to the biological wonders of the Thames River and surrounding wetlands. Tracey was a dedicated marine scientist and a natural leader and mentor who generously shared her knowledge and expertise with young and old alike.
Outside of work, Tracey was an adventurous international traveler and never met an animal who did not love her back; she was always eager to share her latest culinary creation with family, friends and co-workers. Tracey was a multi-talented, outgoing, and hardworking woman with a big heart who loved her job and her friends.
She is survived by her sisters Robin Vuillermet of Killingworth and Cheri McKenzie of Weston, her brother-in-law Jean Pierre Vuillermet, and sister-in-law Susanne Rechner.
The family would like to send a special thank you to the team at Yale New Haven Hospital for its dedication and compassion. Because marine science was Tracey’s passion and the focus of both her educational and professional life, the family has established the Tracey P. McKenzie Scholarship with Oceanology Project, a non-profit education and research facility in Groton (www.oceanology.org/donate-traceymckenzie). The fund has been established to enable young people, who otherwise might not be able to afford it, the opportunity to be introduced to marine science through Project Oceanology’s summer camp. Donations may also be made in Tracey’s name to Mystic Aquarium to help fund research, rescue, and education initiatives (ramp.mysticaquarium.org/donate/i/76). Tracey would be honored to know that her legacy might engage and inspire a new generation of marine scientists and environmental stewards.
A private burial will be held at a later date with interment at the Village Cemetery in Old Wethersfield. D’Esopo Funeral Chapel has been entrusted with the arrangements and online expressions of condolence can be sent to www.desopofuneralchapel.com. The family will hold a celebration of Tracey’s life in the summer when family and friends can gather safely outside on the Connecticut shoreline.
Rest in peace Tracey, knowing that you are truly loved and missed by many.