Ralph Henry "Mike" McKee
BORN: February 28, 1899, in Edgar, Clay County, Nebraska
DIED: July 1, 1979, in Dow City, Crawford County, Iowa
AGED: 80 years, 4 months
BURIED: Dow City Cemetery, Dow City, Crawford County, Iowa
FATHER: Samuel McKee born in Illinois
MOTHER: Anna Harrison born in Illinois
MARRIAGE: to Grace E. Edwards on April 5, 1917, in Denison, Crawford County, Iowa
1. Nadine Liberty McKee born February 6, 1918, in Dow City, Crawford County, Iowa.
2. Ralph Kingdon McKee born April 19, 1919, in Dow City, Crawford County, Iowa.
3. Patricia Ann McKee born May 5, 1922, in Dow City?, Crawford County, Iowa.
4. Dennis Keith McKee born September 16, 1927, in Dow City?, Crawford County, Iowa.
5. Van Stanley McKee born July 9, 1930, in Dow City, Crawford County, Iowa.
Ralph Henry McKee was born on February 28, 1899, in Edgar, Clay County, Nebraska. He was the third and youngest son of Samuel and Anna (Harrison) McKee. His two older brothers, Roy and Guy, were 12 and 5 years of age at the time of Ralph's birth.
Sometime between the census of 1910, which showed him as a boy just eleven years of age, and the year 1918, Ralph moved to Dow City, in Crawford County, Iowa. At the young age of only eighteen, he married my aunt, Grace E. Edwards, a lifelong resident of Dow City. Their marriage took place on April 5, 1917, in Denison, Crawford County, Iowa. At that time, he worked as a railroad telegrapher in the tower in Arion, Iowa.
When the U.S. entered the First World War, Ralph enlisted in the army. While he was getting ready to go overseas, his first child was born, a girl named Nadine Liberty McKee. Subsequent to that, Ralph was sent to France, but he did not see any combat during his tour of duty.
After the war, the U.S. Census for 1920 shows the family living in Storm Lake, in Buena Visa County, Iowa. He was managing a bowling alley at that time. The family also had another member, a son named Ralph Kingdon McKee. (In later life, our family always simply referred to him as "King.")
By the time of the 1930 census, the family was back living in Dow City, Iowa. At that time, Uncle Mike was a mail carrier working on a rural route. That's the job he held when I was a boy. He stayed on the route until his retirement around the year 1964.
Also by the 1930 census, the family had increased in size again with the birth of another daughter, Patricia Ann McKee, born on May 5, 1922, and a boy, Dennis Keith McKee, born on September 16, 1927. One other addition to the family was the birth of another son named Van Stanley McKee, who died at the age of three.
I have rather fond memories of my "Uncle Mike," as we all called him. He was of average height and was always slim. He never gained an ounce, even in the later years of his life. He had red hair and a deeply lined face. He had the voice of a politician and sometimes made grand senatorial gestures when he talked. He was boisterous and confident and always made his presence known. Yet, he always had time to talk to me. He had a winning smile, and he always called me "Red" because I had red hair, too. (He's the only person I ever allowed to call me that.)
Uncle Mike had many friends in the small town of Dow City. He always knew what was going on around town, and he even served as the mayor for a short time. He was a staunch Republican, and he and another uncle, Tom McCollough, who was a staunch Democrat, got into some lively political debates.
Grace McKee suffered a stroke in the late 1960s. Uncle Mike took care of her until she died on April 3, 1970. Uncle Mike was devastated by her loss. He lived alone after that until his own death on July 1, 1979. Ralph Henry "Mike" McKee is buried in the municipal cemetery, located on a hill just west of Dow City. I miss Uncle Mike. He was one of a kind.