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Charles McKee was literally a giant in the field of soil conservation in Indiana. His influence and efforts were hugely responsible in the cooperative effort that Indiana has enjoyed for over 75 years! He was responsible for the careers of so many folks in Indiana, including my own 40 year career with soil conservation. I worked closely with Charles for several years and learned so much from his attitudes of hard work, honesty, integrity, and always striving to improve the entire system. Indiana’s Conservation Partnership had many of its first impetuses from his influence. I was glad to learn that he enjoyed a long and fruitful retirement, mostly with Norma until she passed, and I know he was happy to be a grandpa. My prayers and thoughts to Gary and the rest of the family. Greg Biberdorf
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Charles C. McKee, 95, passed away on Nov. 27 in West Lafayette. His professional career was marked by a lifelong service to soil and conservation management in Indiana. Charles was born on April 18, 1926, to Wallace and Mae McKee in Telford, TN. In 1943, the family relocated to a farm near Philadelphia, TN, where Charles graduated from Washington College Academy. Following a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Charles attended East Tennessee State (Johnson City), then transferred to the main campus of University of Tennessee (Knoxville), earning his Bachelor’s of Science degree in 1950. Upon graduation, Charles moved to Gibson County, IN to teach vocational agriculture. It was there that he met Norma Schurmeier, the older sister of one of his students. The couple moved to Princeton, IN and then to Petersburg, IN where Charles worked for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. In 1955, the McKees relocated to West Lafayette and Purdue University. Charles was employed initially as a soil conservationist with the Cooperative Extension Service. He next served as Executive Secretary of the State Soil & Water Conservation Committee until 1987. Charles also was named chief of a newly-created Division of Soil Conservation at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which he held until his retirement. During Charles’ tenure as Director, INDR Soil Conservation provided program assistance to Indiana’s 92 county Soil & Water Conservation Districts, completed the updating of each county’s soil survey, and oversaw the state-funded “T-by2000” soil conservation and water quality protection initiative, as a partner with various federal, state and local entities. Charles had administrative responsibility for all state, regional and county employees. Preceded in death by his wife Norma and daughter Diane, Charles is survived by son Gary (April) of Rossville, six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and sisters Mary Ruth Bowery and Francis Miller, both of Kingsport, TN. Charles enjoyed sporting events and traveling with Norma in their motor home. He was a long-time member of the West Lafayette First United Methodist Church. Services for Charles will be held Friday, April 22, 2022, with visitation from 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., at Tippecanoe Memory Gardens Funeral Chapel, 1718 W. 350 N., West Lafayette, IN 47906. Memorial services with military honors will be held at 11:00 a.m. following visitation at the chapel. Online condolences can be left to the family at www.tippecanoememorygardens.com. Tippecanoe Funeral & Cremation Services is honored to be assisting the family with the arrangements.
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