The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

Betty McKee (Imrie)


Betty McKee (Imrie)

Lucia Elizabeth Imrie was born February 5, 1923 into a pioneer family who helped settle Goodnoe Hills. She passed away July 3, 2016 at the age of 93.

Betty's grandparents, Arvilla and William Imrie homesteaded land in Goodnoe Hills in the late 1800's. They started farming and ranching. They had 11 children including Betty's father, Wilford Imrie. During Betty's early childhood, her family, Margaret and Wilford Imrie and brother Robert Imrie, lived on their farm near Rock Creek. Her childhood friends were local Indians. The girls enjoyed playing together and trading beads and jewelry. Later the family moved to Goodnoe Hills where they took over ranching and farming from Betty's grandfather who had retired. Margaret and Wilford added many acres to the ranch over time. At this time Betty attended Goodnoe Hills country school where she completed grades first through eighth. There were approximately 30 students spanning all 8 grades. The teacher and older girls cooked lunch each day for the students, usually a big pot of soup. The teaching job paid $60 per month and the teacher lived with Betty's family. Many students rode horse back for five miles to school every morning. There was a barn on the school grounds where the horses were fed and watered.

Betty and her brother Bob attended Goldendale High School. As it was about 20 miles away they stayed in town with a family where they had room and board. On weekends and during the summer break, Betty went home to Goodnoe Hills where she helped with wheat harvest, cattle drives and enjoyed riding her horse, Clover. In 1939 she was honored to be the Klickitat County Rodeo Queen during her senior year of high school. Following high school, Betty attended the University of Washington, however she didn't finish as she moved back home in 1941 to marry Ken McKee, a local banker. Ken was also from a pioneer family. His mother, Alice McKee (McEwen) was from a family of 12 children. Her parents, Will and Anna McEwen homesteaded farmland near Centerville. Two of Alice's brothers, Ward and Fuller, remained in the county and continued to farm and ranch. Fuller was also the County Sheriff for 8 years during the time of prohibition. Alice married Leonard McKee, a pharmacist, and they owned McKee's Drug Store in Goldendale.

During WWII Betty and Ken moved to Vancouver, WA to work in the shipyards to do their part for the war effort. After the war they moved back to the Goldendale area where they bought a farm and raised alfalfa. They had three children, Ken McKee Jr., Peggy McKee Callan, and Shellie McKee. Ken later returned to his job at the bank. He passed away in 1978 at the age of 67.

Eventually Betty went to work as a payroll clerk during the construction of the John Day Dam. When the dam was finished she took the position of City Clerk for Goldendale and became the City Administrator. She worked there for 14 years until her retirement in 1985. Following her mother's death, Betty and her father, Wilford moved to Yachats, Oregon which was a favorite place of Wilfords. They enjoyed the coast for several years until Wilford, who was 96, passed away. In 1995 Betty married her neighbor, Del Lobb. They enjoyed time together for almost 20 years. Del recently passed away at the age of 96.

Betty is survived by her three children, Ken McKee Jr (Linda), Peggy Callan (Gene), and Michelle McKee. Her grandchildren are Elizabeth Robinson (Matthew), Katelin Rosenkranz (Joe), Taylor Phillips (Adrian), Zack Callan and Davis Hoffman. Sadly, Betty's first grandchild, Cori Lin McKee, passed away as an infant. Great grandchildren are Jackson Rosenkranz, Audrey Rosenkranz and Graydon Robinson.

Betty was a lovely, smart, talented, generous woman and an accomplished artist. She enjoyed golf and could hit the ball long and straight. Betty was also a great hostess and cook who was known for her chocolate and lemon meringue pies and perfect Thanksgiving dinners complete with a beautiful table set with silver and china. Betty enjoyed her affiliation with the Goldendale P.E.O. Sisterhood and cherished their friendships.

But most importantly, Betty had a heart for God. She served her Goldendale Baptist church faithfully for many years and made sure her children were also involved. She truly walked the talk, frequently providing meals, clothing and household items to those in need. Betty was generous with her time and resources. She taught Sunday school for many years. Following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease we have no doubt that Betty is now where she Heaven with our Lord.

A celebration of life will be held at noon on Saturday, Aug. 6, at the Goldendale Golf Club located at 1901 N. Columbus Avenue.


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