“It was hard not to know Bill.” That was the first thing Golden icon Marv Kay had to say about his friend, William “Bill” Mckee, who died this month of leukemia at the age of 68. “He was …
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“It was hard not to know Bill.”
That was the first thing Golden icon Marv Kay had to say about his friend, William “Bill” McKee, who died this month of leukemia at the age of 68.
“He was involved in just about every volunteer effort and community effort in the city of Golden,” added Kay. “So anytime anything good was happening in the city of Golden you could always find Bill McKee.”
Among those most visible contributions were two terms on the Golden city council, which McKee served on from 1996 to 2004. Prior to that, McKee spent eight years on the Golden Planning Commission.
McKee’s time on both the council and planning commission coincided with important changes in the history of the city as city leaders worked to revitalize downtown and bring more business and tourism to Golden, paving the way for the vibrant city residents know today. McKee was always near the center of those efforts, Kay said.
McKee initiated, along with other city leaders, a “Citizen Action Team,” which sparked the idea for the formal establishment of the Golden Urban Renewal Authority in December 1989.
“My father served the community during Golden’s renaissance in the late 1980s to mid 2000s, helping to make downtown Golden just how beautiful and economically vibrant it is today,” said Greg. “He was very proud to have been able to support the development of projects such as the Golden Community Center and Fossil Trace Golf Course, just to name a few.”
McKee was also involved in the ultimately successful efforts to prevent the Northwest Parkway from being constructed through Golden. His and other Golden leaders' decision-making on the Northwest Parkway was intended to preserve the city of Golden’s integrity.
“You could always count on Bill for very wise discussions and very sound reasoning behind every decision that city council made,” Kay said.
But while McKee did much for the city in his time in city government, many of his largest and most lasting contributions were to the various city boards and organizations he gave so much time to.
In 1989, McKee went through the Leadership Golden program, which consists of a series of seminars about various aspects of the city and its operations and is intended to provide Goldenites a springboard into serving the city.
McKee, of course, did just that before starting to serve the Leadership Golden organization itself, where he was a member of the board until his death.
“With volunteering, just showing up and being committed counts for a lot,” said Leadership Golden President Paul Haseman. “And he was definitely strongly committed to Leadership Golden and really felt strongly about the city.”
Another passion of McKee’s was the Golden History Museum & Park. He served as president of the Friends of the Golden History Museum & Park group that is a key financial supporter of the museum and also helped shepherd it from a volunteer enterprise to the professionally-run museum that it is today.
The museum’s current director, Nathan Richie, said that while McKee could be a fierce advocate for the museum, he will also be remembered by many for his sense of humor.
“I think everyone who knew him just found him to be a very approachable and likeable person who brought a lot of humor and levity to situations, especially when there could be some tension,” he said.
In addition to his many civic endeavors, McKee enjoyed a long career working as a member of the staff of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Water Quality Control Division.
Jon Scherschligt, who was McKee’s section manager for about 15 years, said McKee had several roles over his 26 years with the division as the Upper Colorado Watershed coordinator. McKee helped rural communities secure grants to improve their wastewater infrastructure. He also helped communities in the Colorado River basin deal with runoff issues.
"Bill solved problems big and small from addressing agricultural runoff issues to tackling major water quality needs in Colorado's mountain communities," said Scherschligt. "His work was essential to preserving one of Colorado’s most important resources: water."
But while many will remember McKee for his outsized role in the community, Greg said he and his sister, Meredith, will always think of him simply as their loving father.
“He was just a wonderful grandfather to my kids and a great husband to my mom, Suzy McKee, and just an all-around salt-of-the-earth kind of guy,” he said.
[Correction: An earlier version of this story missated the nature of Bill McKee's involvement in the creation of the Golden Urban Renweal Authority. This error has been corrected.]
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