“Article written by Leann Doffin – JNF Communication Director”
In one month, the Kentland community lost two beloved women who left an imprint where they lived. Linda McKee, daughter of Phyllis and Ross McKee, passed away May 6, 2019. Shortly after, her mother, Phyllis, passed away on May 25, 2019. Linda and Phyllis were both Kentland natives who lived their early family life on a farm 3 miles east of Kentland.
The farm was cared for by Phyllis’ husband, Robert Ross McKee, and was passed down to him from his father and grandfather. In WWII, Robert McKee was a B24 Liberator Pilot and First Lieutenant in the Air Force. He completed 29 missions in Europe and came back home to finish school at Purdue and received his degree in Animal Husbandry. Phyllis and Ross met as students at Purdue in 1946. From there, his career in farming started and he assisted his father in caring for the property.
Eventually, Phyllis and Ross married after college and Phyllis moved home to Kentland where Ross’ family farm was. Phyllis enjoyed her life there and created many memories. As a homemaker, she raised three children and loved to cook, garden and sew. She was fortunate to be involved in their school activities and school plays. After her children were grown, Phyllis took an interest in oil painting and painted over 400 pictures. Some of her art is still displayed in several homes and businesses around Kentland.
In 1998, Phyllis and her husband Ross (a founding member of the Newton County Community Foundation) opened an endowment fund with the Community Foundation called the, “Phyllis and Ross McKee Advised Achievement Fund” to provide scholarships for graduates of South Newton High School. The couple wanted to help high school graduating seniors receive assistance in paying for college tuition because knew it was so expensive and students could barely afford it. Phyllis and Ross believed every little bit helps and lessens the burden and financial strain.
Over the last 20 years, the McKee Advised Achievement Fund has provided 87 scholarships which translates to over $119,000. This scholarship fund has made a significant impact in Newton County and every year the students express their gratefulness in thank-you notes that are mailed to the Foundation and shared with the family.
Linda, daughter of Ross & Phyllis McKee, was a committee member on the McKee Advised Achievement Fund who assisted in selecting eligible student applicants to receive the scholarship funds each year. In addition, Linda lived her life to the fullest with many activities and interests. Linda was a teacher most of her life who enjoyed outdoor adventures extensively: rafting, cycling, hiking, skiing, motorcycling and traveling. She was an avid reader involved in book clubs and volunteered for many community organizations.
Laura Robbins, High School Counselor at South Newton School, worked closely with Linda McKee on the scholarship committee stated, “Working with Linda on the McKee scholarship was one of the things I looked forward to the most every year. Linda always carried on the traditions that her dad wanted to uphold with this scholarship; agriculture, education and financial need were the top of her list when selecting candidates. She was honest, kind, caring and a delight to work with. Even though we only talked once or twice a year, it was an hour long conversation or meeting that ended with laughs & hugs. She lived her life to the fullest and I hope we can all carry that on with us.”
The McKees were Scottish and very proud of their heritage. Linda was active in bag-piping and was part of a bagpipe band, attending many Scottish festivals and hosting Scottish events. She enjoyed her heritage just as much as her father, Ross, who cherished visiting the home of his ancestors in Scotland.
The Jasper Newton Foundation is deeply saddened by the loss of two great women who cared so much for others and their community. They were full of life, compassion and adventure. The generosity of the McKee Family and their established endowment fund at the Jasper Newton Foundation has changed many lives. The McKees believed in helping others and saw education as an important part of life. They utilized the Foundation to create a lasting way to share that belief with the South Newton community. The legacy of the McKee Family will forever be an investment in the lives of graduating seniors from South Newton High School.
The Jasper Newton Foundation Inc. is a local nonprofit organization that connects residents of Jasper County and Newton County, Indiana with causes they care about through coordinated investments and strategic grantmaking. It’s a way for local people to come together and solve local challenges facing Jasper and Newton Counties every day, leaving a legacy of giving in the community. By working as an advocate for the whole nonprofit sector and connecting residents and organizations across the two counties, the Jasper Newton Foundation enables a larger impact beyond what one individual nonprofit or donor can accomplish. To learn more about how to #LoveWhereYouLive visit us at www.jaspernewtonfoundation.org.