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Charles McKee’s contributions to the Soil and Water Conservation Program of Indiana were huge and impactful. His efforts to build up Soil and Water Conservation Districts in terms of strength and effectiveness were immense and long-lasting. As a leader, I appreciated his tenacity and wisdom and knowledge. He hired me first in 1975 as a trainee, full-time in 1979 and promoted me to management as one of his assistants through the Accelerated Soil Survey Program and T by 2000. I was a better employee for his influence and he impacted me and my family with a career that spanned 40 years. Rest in Peace, you were a good and faithful servant and leader, Charles. 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.
A memorial service will be held at Tippecanoe Memory Gardens in West Lafayette at a later time to be announced in Spring 2022.
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