Taylor McKenzie, first Navajo surgeon, dies at 76

Taylor McKenzie, the first Navajo surgeon and former vice president of the Navajo Nation, died on Friday. He was 76.

McKenzie earned his medical degree in 1958. That led to a 30-year career in public and Indian health, and of service to the Navajo Nation.

"The late Dr. McKenzie made an important and great contribution to the Navajo people and the Navajo Nation through his service as a physician with the Indian Health Service for more than 30 years, as our vice president and as our first medical officer," President Joe Shirley Jr. said.

McKenzie served as vice president from 1999 to 2003, under former president Kelsey Begaye, who credited the late doctor with building new clinics and helping to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. "He just went 110 percent," Begaye told The Gallup Independent.

More recently, McKenzie was appointed in December 2005 to serve as the Navajo Nation's first medical officer. "He has really taken us to a new level since he became Medical Officer of Navajo Nation Division of Health," Anslem Roanhorse, executive director of the Navajo Nation Division of Health, told the Independent.

Get the Story:
Former Navajo VP, Taylor McKenzie dies at age 76 (The Gallup Independent 4/14)
Navajo nation: Former V.P., medical officer dies (AP 4/14)
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Relevant Links:
Navajo Nation - http://www.navajo.org

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