Obituary for James McKee Jr.
James E. McKee, Jr., retired Monsanto Company public relations executive, passed away early Sunday, December 3 just two days short of his 101st birthday. He was a long-time resident of Warson Woods as an original owner and was active in its civic affairs. He was a member of St. Matthews Episcopal Church and Grace Church in Kirkwood. He was predeceased by his wife, Ruth Evelyn (ne Kunstel) in 2009. They were married for 62 years.
Mr. McKee was born in Albany, New York, December 5, 1916. He graduated from Holderness School in 1935 and the University of Vermont in 1939. His early career was spent in the newspaper business and included time as a United Press reporter in Miami, Atlanta, Memphis and Nashville.
He began his 51-year career in public relations when he accepted a position as Director of Public Relations for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company. Mr. McKee then joined Monsanto Company in various public relations positions for 35 years, the last seven years as Director of the Corporate Public
Relations Department. After his Monsanto retirement he was senior consultant for Batz Hodson Neuwoehner Advertising Agency and later as community relations manager for the U.S. Department of Energy Weldon Spring Site Remedial Action Project.
A member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) College of Fellows, Mr. McKee was one of the founders of the St. Louis Chapter and was president of that organization in 1960-61. He was chair of the PRSA’s midwestern district in 1962 and 1986 and served two terms as a member of PRSA’s National
Board of Directors. He was chair of the public relations committee of the Manufacturing Chemists Association in Washington, D.C. in 1966-67.
Mr. McKee was active in the St. Louis civic and educational arenas, including President of the Adult Education Council of Greater St. Louis (1957-59), Trustee of John Burroughs School (1966-72) and Board member of the Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis. He was a member of the former St. Louis Social Planning Committee. When it became evident that construction of new highways 55 and 44 would create three separate neighborhoods in South St. Louis, he was asked to chair a study committee of the area’s public service and neighborhood welfare organizations.
The couple have two children, Dr. Eugenia V. McKee and James E. McKee III (Christy); and two grandchildren, Elizabeth Luyties McKee and James E. McKee IV (Anne). Special thanks to Lonna Becton, his caregiver.
There will be no services. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Holderness School-, Chapel Lane, PO Box 1879, Plymouth, NH 03264-1879.