Maurice Lloyd "Mac" McKinnis, long time Baker City resident, passed away at his home on June 14th after a long illness. He was 86 years old. A private family service will be held Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at Coles Tribute Center with vault interment to follow at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Baker City. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at a later date at the United Methodist Church in Baker City for family and friends of Mac.
He was born on October 17th, 1933 in Halfway, Oregon to Ralph and Hazel (Gowey) McKinnis at the home of his maternal grandparents, Harper and Suzie (Deck) Gowey. He was delivered by his Grandma Gowey who was a midwife and attended at the birth of many of her grandchildren.
He attended school in the Grant County, graduating from grammar school at John Day Grade School and then Grant Union High School in John Day, Oregon, where he lettered in football, basketball and track and went to state in track in his senior year in 1952. He earned his Bachelors Degree and teaching certificate at Eastern Oregon College of Education in La Grande, Oregon. During his time in college, he married Beverly Jean Comini. They were married on October 15, 1954 in Pendleton, Oregon. "Because deer season was over and elk season hadn't started yet."
Mac, as he was known to many, started his working career at a young age, having worked as a hay hand, farm hand and equipment driver by the time of his eighth grade graduation. After obtaining his teaching degree at La Grande, he was hired for his first teaching assignment in 1956 at John Day Grade School. In 1961, he moved his family to Baker and was hired as a grade school teacher at School District 5-J. During his time at North Baker Elementary, he taught 4th, 5th and 6th grade, as well as coaching basketball.
During the summer break, Mac worked for the US Forest Service in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. He worked road crew, brush management, trail maintenance, firefighting and Fire Security for the Whitman Ranger District in Baker. He also managed the camp grounds at Phillips Reservoir and spent a number of years as the Guard at the Anthony Lake Guard Station. He retired from the Forest Service after 33 years as a "seasonal worker."
After 36 years of teaching and 33 years of forestry work, perhaps the job he enjoyed the most was working at Cashway Lumber Comany. What started as a means of supporting his building supply needs for their home improvement projects became a regular opportunity to meet with friends, neighbors and former students for their project needs and catch up on the news of the day. One home improvement project also resulted in an archeological dig conducted by the University of Idaho in their back yard. The property had once been part of the farm land of Baker's Chinatown and many artifacts were found and archived as a result.
Maurice was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying hunting, fishing, camping and hiking. He not only enjoyed the activities with his own wife and children, but also with the members of the scouting troop at his church. He acted as Assistant Scout Master for Troop 444 which met at the Baker Methodist Church where he and his family were members. While he was with the troop, they completed 4 50-mile hikes through the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
He was a Master Gardner through the exchange office, kept an extensive backyard garden, managed their fruit trees and enjoyed canning their own fruits and vegetables. He enjoyed oil painting and completed projects on canvas, as well as on old saws. He was a UL Certified electrical inspector and among his projects completed the inspections for the wagon wheel light fixtures in the Grizzly Bear Pizza parlors.
He also very much enjoyed getting together with family members at various family reunions throughout the state. He was involved with the yearly Harris Family Reunion which celebrated two of the pioneers families of Union County (Joseph Harris and J.L. McKinnis) to which he belonged. He also attended the Gowey Family Reunions throughout the years for his mother's family who were early settlers in Oregon.
Maurice is survived by his wife of 65 years, Beverly of Baker City, his son Glen of Baker City; his son and daughter-in-law Ron and Jennifer, of Hermiston; his daughter and son-in-law Cheryl and Mike of Portland; and his daughter and son-in-law Teresa and James Millwood of Baker City. He is also survived by his two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Hazel Gowey, His brothers Myron, Harold and Wayne McKinnis and his sister, Shirley Klecker.
Memorial contributions in memory of Maurice can be made to Heart 'N' Home Hospice, Baker United Methodist Church or the charity of your choice through Coles Tribute Center at 1950 Place Street, Baker City, OR 97814.
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