Billy Charles McKinney was born April 4, 1936 to James Percy and Lillie Ivy (Mayo) McKinney at their family home in Whitthorne, TN. He passed away peacefully in his sleep at home on Friday, July 9, 2021. Dad was the second born of four children, joining sister Joanne, followed by sister Patsy and brother James Donald (Don). They spent their early years in Milan and Jackson Tennessee. When Dad was 12, Grandpa and Grandma loaded up their children in their car that was loaded on the bed of a flatbed truck and headed for the Yakima Valley where friends had told them of the prosperous farming opportunities. They lived first in Granger, WA and finally settled for many years north of Grandview on the Alhambra Vineyards.
Dad was a member of the Grandview High School class of 1954. Following high school, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and reported to McGuire AFB in New Jersey. He spent his service stationed in France as a 77150 Air Policeman where he patrolled alongside his trusty K-9 companion, Ajax. Dad returned to Grandview following his service and began his career with the Grandview Police Department. Shortly after returning home he met Paulette French while she was working at the A&W in Grandview. They were married September 8, 1962 and made their home in Grandview for just short of 59 years. In 1966, Dad left the police force and he and Mom moved from town to the Alhambra Vineyard where Dad took over vineyard operations when his Dad became ill. In 1979, we moved from the farm into town and Dad began working for the Roza Irrigation District where he later retired.
Dad loved horseback riding and we spent most weekends during the summer camping with friends who became family, all of whom remained close to this day.
He was extremely proud of his children and their accomplishments. He often said “I don’t have daughters-in-law or a son-in-law, I only have daughters and sons.”
His biggest love came later as his grandchildren and great grandchildren arrived. He loved spoiling them. He enjoyed taking them camping, picking them up from school, and taking them to feed the horses that often followed by a stop at Dairy Queen. He loved attending their events - especially basketball games, helping with their vacation bible school and was even talked into joining 4-H with Andrea and their horses.
Dad was a longtime member of the Bethany Presbyterian Church in Grandview where he served as an elder and was a member of the Gary Souder’s Men’s Bible Study. Dad is survived by his wife of nearly 59 years, Paulette (Polly), three sons, Rob (Kelly), Scott (Carman) and Steven (Amy) and one daughter Molly (Duane) Schutt. He is also Grandpa to eight grandchildren; Andrew (Lindsey) Schutt, Jennifer (Reid) Klei, Maggie (Brandon) Stewart, Andrea (Christian) Cloeter, Libbey (Sean) Tudor, Taylor (Lee) Oxman, Tyler McKinney and Emma McKinney. He is Great Grandpa to thirteen great grandchildren; Dennelle Hernandez, Milo Klei, Grayson Klei, Olivia Schutt, Bentley Stewart, McKinney Stewart, Reagan Tudor, Vivian Schutt, Lily Stewart, Brooklyn Oxman, William Tudor, Evelyn Schutt and Baby Cloeter.
Dad is also survived by his two sisters, Joanne (Charles) Bowen and Patsy (Ray) Merriman, sister-in-law Carol McKinney, brothers-in-law Bill (Evelyn) French, Buddy (Dana) French and by several special nieces, nephews and extended family members. Dad is preceded in death by his parents Percy and Lillie McKinney and brother James Donald McKinney.
We would like to thank Dads special, lifelong friends, Don (Marlana) Williams, Don (Dorothy) Harker, Linda Barnes, Jim Harris, Don (Ann) Bentley, Dave Ballinger, Dennis Byam, Gay Brewer and Marv Kragt for their unwavering friendship and continued visits throughout the years. We would also like to thank Heartlinks Hospice and Palliative Care staff; Leisha, Sarah, Juana, Chaplain Jim McGowan, and especially Sandra Ambriz for the loving care given to Dad and to our family.
Viewing and Visitation will be Thursday, July 15th from 4PM-7PM at Smith Funeral Home in Sunnyside. A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, July 16th at 11AM at Bethany Community Church in Grandview with Military Honors.
Memorials can be made to Bethany Community Church Memorial Fund or Heartlinks Hospice and Palliative Care of Sunnyside.
Those wishing to sign Bill's online memorial book may do so at www.funeralhomesmith.com
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