Robert McKinney, the son of Judge Herbert Joseph and Myrtle (Dodson)
McKinney, was born August 8, 1913 near Jacksonville, MO. He
graduated from Cairo High School in 1930 then attended the
University of Missouri for his freshman year in college. The next
year, he transferred to Northeast Missouri State Teachers College
(now Truman State University) where he completed his studies,
graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1936.
From January 1938 until early 1940,
when he resigned to enlist in the US Army, Robert was secretary &
assistant to Walter H Ryle, Northeast’s President. He was
promoted to Technical Sergeant in the 39th Division, in September
1940 and later attended Officer Candidate School, receiving his
commission in 1942. In August 1943, he transferred to the
Inspector General’s Office and served in England and France for the
rest of the war.
Before going overseas, Robert was
stationed at Camp Howze, a temporary training base near Gainesville,
Cooke County, TX. He and
Frances McCuistion, a native of the county, were married in
Gainesville May 1, 1943. Their two sons, Robert Logan Jr and
Thomas Hal, were born after the war.
Lt Colonel McKinney was released from
active duty in 1946 and returned to Kirksville where he resumed his
position as President Ryle’s personal assistant. Five years
later, in 1951, Robert was recalled to active duty during the Korean
conflict and continued on active status until he retired with the
rank of Colonel in August 1965. He served in the Inspector
General’s office at the Pentagon and in Japan, with the 417th
Aviation Brigade in Japan and the 7th Logistical Command in Korea.
His final assignment was as Chief of the Program & Doctrine Branch,
Combat Development Command, Ft Lee, VA.
Once again, he returned to Northeast
as the President’s Assistant and was given additional duties as Head
of the Division of Public Relations and Information. He was
working in this capacity at the time of his death in Jefferson City,
January 19, 1973. He died of a heart attack in the Missouri
State capitol where he was to appear before the House Appropriations
Committee on behalf of the University. He was buried with
military honors at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
Robert was a member of the American
College Public Relations Association and was an active Mason and a
founding member of the Kirksville Jaycees. After his
death, the Col Robert L McKinney Memorial Scholarship was
established by his family and friends. That summer, the former
Industrial Arts Building, now an administrative building, was
renamed the McKinney Public Relations Center in his honor. The
building name was changed again in 2005 to The Colonel & Mrs Robert
L McKinney Center.