FREDERICKTOWN — A good man passed away Oct. 10, 2018. He was not famous, he was not renown, but he was one of the richest men in the world. If you were lucky enough to cross his path, you remember his quick wit, kind heart, teasing laughter and the spark in his eyes.
John B. McKee was born almost 92 years ago in a small, central Ohio town to Steven Curtis and Grace (Barnhard) McKee. A football and basketball legend for the Fredericktown “Freddies,” he was sighted walking faithfully four miles round trip from home to school. He drove a school bus at age 14, trucked and shoveled tons of coal stoking the fire in the boiler to keep the school warm throughout the winter. Upon graduation from high school, John enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in Korea.
The GI Bill enabled John to attend Miami University of Ohio where he pledged the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. Fellow servicemen at Miami met each other and created a platoon of brothers who became very close lifelong friends. He met his best friend and the love of his life, Nancy Lee Schnabel and they married Aug. 26, 1950. While at Miami, John coached the freshman football team under the leadership of head coach Woody Hayes. Graduating from Miami, he accepted his first teaching position and coached both football and basketball for Poland High School near Youngstown. Within two years, a fraternity brother encouraged him to apply for a position with the Ohio Farmers Insurance Company in LeRoy. This led to a life-long career in the insurance industry, retiring as Senior Vice President of Marketing for Westfield Insurance Company in Westfield Center. He was fortunate to choose early retirement at the age of 58 and what an incredible retirement life he had!
John and Nancy traveled the world together. They toured Bali, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. They delivered Christmas gifts to family in three different states, always taking time to attend their grandchildren’s extra-curricular activities. Ever expanding their group of friends, they traveled the US and decided to winter in Florida. While residing in Westfield Center, John enjoyed all sports, especially golf, and was an avid viewer of all. He established and mentored a Youth Basketball Program for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Cloverleaf School District, served on Village Council, was a loyal member of the “Lima Close,” and volunteered at the IYC Golf Tournaments and Junior PGA tournaments.
John will lovingly be remembered by his wife of 68 years, Nancy(nee Schnabel); their children, Bill (Angela) McKee of Denver, NC; Barb (Denny LeMar) McKee of Denver, CO; Beth (Bill) Raftry of Westfield Center; grandchildren, Tyler and Tatum McKee, Clay and Cora LeMar, Casey and Brian Raftry; sister, Carole (David) Ogg. John was preceded in death by his son, Bobby; grandchild, Kersti Raftry; and brother, Bob McKee.
His life was long and rich. His constant words of wisdom and advice remain with us in heart and spirit. Hunter S.Thompson wrote, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming……WOW, what a ride!”
That is the Legacy of John McKee. A kind, generous, and faithful man, loved by many, who died in the arms of his best friend, at home. (Rest in peace John B., you earned it.)
Per John’s wishes, there will be no calling hours. The inurnment service will take place at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman Monday, Dec. 3, at 2:30 p.m. The family invites all family and friends to join them for a Reception and Celebration of John’s Life Monday, Dec. 3, from 4-6 p.m. at The Oaks Lakeside Lodge, 5878 Longacre Lane, Chippewa Lake, OH.
Memorial Contributions may be made to the Westfield Fire & Rescue Department, PO Box 886 Westfield Center, OH 44251.
Waite & Son Funeral Home in Medina are assisting the family with arrangements.