James E. McKinney (Jim Ed) died on Saturday, April 4, 2020 at the age of 93. He was born on February 27, 1927 in the home of his maternal grandparents, C.E. Porters in rural East Texas near Point. His parents, Jim and Agatha Porter McKinney, his brothers, C.E. and Floyd George, and his sister, Mary Margaret are deceased.
He married Virginia Kimmel of Midlothian, Texas. She died in 2017. He is survived by three children, Kimmel, Alma, and Melanie, five grandsons and four great-grandchildren.
Jim graduated high school in Emory, Texas valedictorian 1944. He served two years in the Navy toward the end of Wold War II. He graduated cum laude from Texas A&M Commerce with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He taught Spanish at Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois from 1948 to1954. While at the Academy he met annd married Virginia, the love of his life. She was a 1950 senior at Lindenwood College in nearby St. Charles, Missouri. He spent two happy years teaching Spanish in Baytown, Texas.
He earned the coveted M.A. degree in Spanish from Middlebury College. In 1956, he was appointed as instructor in Modern Languages at Purdue University. He was granted the PhD in 1962 and ultimately was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.
From 1959 to 1961 Jim and Virginia helped Cuban refugees by housing them at his house; he also found them other places to stay and helped them find jobs. In addition, he was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and invited inner city youth to his house during the summer vacation.
In 1966, Jim was hired by Western Illinois University as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Foreign Languages, a position he held for 16 years. He was an actove and involved member of the Modren Language Association and the American Association of the Teaching of Spanish and Portuguese. On campus he was active in the university governance. He served on numerous councils and committees. He served two terms as Faculty Senator at Large. He was the NCAA Faculty Representative for 23 years. Jim served as Grievance Chair for the Faculty Union (UPI) from the time he left as Department Chair until he retired n 1993.
Jim published numerous articles and reviews and was co-author of a number of Spanish textbooks.
Jim was especially proud of the two awards not related to Foreign Languages. He was inducted to the WIU Hall of Fame for his professional service to WIU’s Athletic Programs. The University Professionals of Illinois (AFT) inducted him to their Hall of Fame for his outstanding contributions to faculty welfare.
Jim loved teaching and his students. He was known as a friend to those who were often left behind. He found the whole academic atmosphere and experiences to be like an exotic elixir which he hated to leave behind when he retired at age 66.
Jim was a driven professional as well as a loving husband, father, grandfather and uncle. Watching his five grandsons grow, though sometimes painful, to become responsible and productive men and fathers was the joy of his life.
Jim was a master gardener who readily shared his blooms, plants, and time. Macomb Beautiful properly recognized his contributions. He also loved to cook for his family and friends.
From his formative years in deep East Texas, he acquired a live for Country and Gospel music. He maintained that Ken Burns’ TV films on country music are a great contribution to the arts. Bill Gaither’s Gospel Hour on PBS preempts Jim’s evening news.
Jim was an avid Bridge player. He was a Bronze Life Master in the American Contract Bridge League for years. He and his son Kimmel hosted 3 games per week of social bridge in his home.
Jim donated his remains to the Deeded Body Program of the College of Medicine of the University of Iowa. There will be no visitation or services.
In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to Melanie’s Special Needs Program: Warren County Achievement Center, Adult Living Program, 2404, 1220 E. 2nd Ave, Monmouth, Il 61462.
Clugston-Tibbitts Funeral Home in Macomb is in charge of arrangements.
You may leave condolences and sign the guest book online at clugston-tibbittsfh.com.
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