Robert “Bob” Harley McKee, 90 years, passed away on February 23, 2022 in the Phoenix home he shared with his devoted wife of 44 years, Mary Ellen.
Bob was born on October 26, 1931 in Hamilton, MO in the home behind the service station owned by his grandfather and run by his father.
As an only child, he attended elementary and high school in Cameron, MO, prior to enrolling in William Jewell College in Liberty, MO and majoring in Economics. Bob put in many long hours delivering fuel, with an old tank wagon. On many cold dark nights, he recalled seeing lights on in all the houses on Christmas Eve, and wishing he was home.
With a good education and a strong work ethic under his belt, he became the ultimate entrepreneur, eventually moving to Arizona in 1969.
Bob became a dynamic, independent gasoline marketer developing one of the largest independent chains of self-serve gasoline stations in the Southwest. He originated the concept of convenience stores, with one stop for the purchase of groceries and gas.
He then branched out into banking, procuring Ralston Bank in Nebraska which he sold to Norwest Bank which then became Wells Fargo Bank.
He thrived on taking chances and could play a waiting game, unless there was a business opportunity that he couldn’t resist and then he would just buy it! Bob once described his successful career as one of “dodging bullets.”
In 1988 he founded the Board of the Torrey Pines Club Corporation, after successfully acquiring the lease of the 36-hole municipal Torrey Pines Golf course owned by the city of San Diego, CA. Torrey Pines Club Corporation serves to operate all aspects relating to the game of golf, from carts to clubs and everything in between. Bob served as Chairman until his passing.
He and Mary Ellen enjoyed the challenge of developing and operating, Hidden Springs Ranch one of the finest manicured horse facilities in Peeples Valley, Arizona. Bob truly enjoyed betting on the “Ponies” and poker with the boys in Del Mar. He enjoyed summers in Idaho floating around on his and Mary Ellen’s boats, “Old man river and Me and Bobby McKee” and participating in the follies around the “Tree Bar.”
Bob was preceded in death by his parents: Robert Doak and Helen Williams McKee, 2 precious grandsons, mother of his children: Peggy Kelly and a brother-in-law: Richard Poulsen.
He is survived by his wife Mary Ellen, 2 daughters: Sherri McKee, her children Linden and Allen Foster and Marlowe (Kim) Quart, Kathleen McKee (Michael) Johnson, their children: Dustin (Christina) Johnson, Luke Johnson and Chelsea Johnson (Brian) Roberts, son Robert Thomas “Tom” (Tracey) McKee, their sons Harley and Matthew, 2 great granddaughters: Colette and Chloe Johnson, 4 brothers-in-law: James (Davey) Campbell, Calvin, Craig, Terry (Jean) Poulsen, sister-in-law: Gail Poulsen and 9 nieces and nephews.
He also leaves behind the devoted staff of Torey Pines Club Corporation and Hidden Springs Ranch, many who have been with Bob and Mary Ellen for over 33 years.
We are all so grateful for all of Bob’s caregivers for so many years and Hospice of the Valley in his final days.
A private family service will be held. A Celebration of Bob’s life will be forthcoming.
To honor Bob’s memory memorials in his name could be directed to: The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale Foundation, 10533 East Lakeview Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85258 or to The Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004.
Condolences may be expressed at www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com
David M. Roche
Bob was an extraordinary man and he will be greatly missed. His friendship and outstanding support of the Heard Museum will never be forgotten. Love,
Posey M Nash
It was our honor to know Bob. What a fine man.
Posey and John
The loss of a great man. I’ll miss his wonderful smile. My sincere condolences to you Mary Ellen. You made his life so bright. Wonderful love story.
We loved him very much. He will be remembered with adoration and great love. He was an extraordinary father in law and grandfather.
His passing will leave a mark on us all.
Our prayers and love are with you and the entire McKee family.
Bob was one of the most gracious and kind men I have ever known. His passing is a loss for everyone who knew him – and for those who didn’t as well. He made the world a better place.
He was so lucky to have your love and support for so many decades. Our love and heartfelt sympathies go to you all during this difficult time.
Dan Hagerty & Michael Cook
I am better for knowing you, better for listening to you, better for having met you. May you be as blessed in the next life, my friend, as I am in this one by knowing you.
Rest in Peace Bobo.
Mike and Becky Poland
Mary Ellen and Family,
So sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. Bob and his parents were long time friends of the Polands. Becky and enjoyed our visits to Phoenix and truly appreciate the hospitality extended to us by the McKees. I considered Bob a true friend and mentor.
Mike and Becky Poland
McKee Family –
I am so sorry for this huge loss…Bob was wonderful and kind to me always.
Please know that you are in my heart and prayers during this most difficult time.
May you find strength in the wonderful memories you have with him.
Dear Mary Ellen,
We are so sorry for your loss. Bob was a great man and you were a great couple. Working with you at the Heard was a wonderful experience. As staff Bob treated me with respect and always made me feel appreciated. Now retired I look back at my Heard days and can say Bob was one of a select few good men I had worked with in my philanthropic career!
Frank & Diane
Mary Ellen, I’m so sorry. I know he has been sick a long time. May God give you strength, comfort & peace at this difficult time. Our Love, Russ & Tracy
All of us who worked with Randy Williams at W R Williams fine jewelry want you to know how highly we regarded your husband ( and you too) . Bob couldn’t have been any nicer. We know he and Randy are in heaven advocating for The Boys and Girls Clubs. We are so sorry for your loss. Bob’s tireless efforts for charity left an amazing legacy.
David M Griffin
Sincere Sympathy to the McKee family. Bob and I were cousins, descendant of the TATE family of Grundy County. Missouri
Bob was a great person, always kind and respectful; also, very unassuming, always greeted everyone with a handshake and a smile, and never held his head above anyone. I hope to always show others as much respect and courtesy as he displayed toward me. We should all aspire to be more like Bob. Mary Ellen and family, please do let me know if there is anything at all you need from me.
Dear Mrs. Mckee.
I’m sorry for your loss. I’m from Cameron and I knew your father-in-law. Doak and my dad played HS and college football together. I knew Bob vaguely as we were about 12 yrs. apart. If you were at a football game at Camelback HS when your son was playing, we have met. Bob hailed me after the game. I was one of the officials and we talked for several minutes. Bob did a many good things and I am sure that you and the kids will continue to do so.
I am so sorry for your loss. Randy thought highly of the 2 of you. I am sure he and Bob are enjoying a good conversation.
I am so sorry to hear about Bob. What a wonderful genuine man. I so enjoyed working for him at the bank. My deepest condolences go out to you, Mary Ellen, and your family.
Dear Mary Ellen,
My sincere sympathy to you for your loss. I enjoyed working with
Bob at Ralston Bank many years ago. Wish you Peace.
Santiago & Margaret Gonzalez
We are saddening as we were informed of your loss Mr. Mckee.
As we are here at Talwiwi , we are remembering him and cherish the beautiful memories of Mr. Mckee.
Santiago and I will keep you and your family in our pray that the Lord will give you strength during this difficult time.
Robert S. Pecharich
Bob McKee and Mary Ellen developed and operate Hidden Springs Ranch in Peeples Valley, near Prescott, Arizona.
I first got to know Bob and Mary Ellen in connection to Hidden Springs Ranch , as I live in Prescott, and Bob came to me with a problem that needed fixing. I visited Hidden Springs Ranch. It helps care for and rejuvenate injured horses of high pedigree. The ranch is a premiere equine facility and Bob made sure it was immaculate, well care for and staffed by wonderful employees. Throughout my work for Bob he was the consummate gentleman as well as a successful businessman. Mary Ellen is equally the kindest, friendliest person to deal with , matching Bob’s qualities. Bob was well liked and respected in the Prescott area , throughout Arizona, and the San Diego area. God bless Bob for all that he did for his communities.
I’ve only just heard of Bob’s passing. I am so very sorry for your loss.
Meeting Bob only briefly, I will remember his smile and sense of humor about the horses.
Best wishes to you always,