January 23, 2003
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Jim McKee’s many gifts

Jim McKee, the former Yellow Springs police chief who died last week, will be remembered for many things. His 36 years with the police force. His passion for
Yellow Springs. His caring, friendly nature. The help he gave so many people. Chief McKee’s influence on this town cannot be measured by any scientific means. But it
can be understood through the words of his friends and colleagues, those who said they were proud to call him a friend.

Mr. McKee meant a lot of things to a lot of people. He was the cool cop who easily took control of a situation. He was the dedicated community leader. He was the mentor who always had sage advice. He was the guy who knew everybody. He was the man who actually meant it when he asked you how you were doing.

When Mr. McKee retired in 1993, former News editor Don Wallis wrote that
“wise friend” is perhaps the best description of Mr. McKee’s role in the community.
In an interview this week, former police officer John Winks described how former residents who returned to town would stop in to see Mr. McKee and thank him for the things he helped them with. Though many of these people may have been in trouble at one point in their lives, Mr. Winks said, they “always had enough respect” for the chief to see him.

Since he retired, a plaque commemorating Chief McKee’s years of service has hung on a wall outside the Police Department in the Bryan Community Center. The plaque says:

Realist and Dreamer
Leader and Listener
Proud of his profession, Humble in his Humanity
Gadfly and Peacemaker
Champion of Children
Collector of Clocks . . .

Whose gifts to the Village of Yellow Springs are forever timeless

In just seven lines this plaque says so much about the things Chief McKee gave us: his passions, his ideas, his friendship. We all should hope to have such things written about us.

Jim McKee may have left us in body but his many good deeds will live on in Yellow Springs forever.

—Robert Mihalek