Frederick Morris McKinney was born in Rolla, Mo., on May 25, 1955, to Carl Winfred “Wink” McKinney and Wanda Mozelle Templeton McKinney. He passed away Aug. 7, 2019. He was their second son and named in honor of his step-grandfather, Fred Holcomb, who was married to his maternal grandmother, Birdie.
Fred grew up on the family farm, and like most young boys, he enjoyed comic books, science fiction novels and movies, riding his bike and playing in the fields, creeks and woods around his hometown of Houston, Mo. Besides his parents, he lived at home with his older brother, Larry, and the family also enjoyed fishing and swimming in the area rivers.
At the age of 10, in the year of 1965, Fred’s parents sold the family farm and built a home closer to town, after his older brother Larry left for college. Just a year later, his little sister Amy was born, whom Fred fondly nicknamed Lambie Pie after giving the newborn a stuffed toy lamb.
Fred had always displayed a keen interest in science and math, showing an aptitude in both fields from a young age. He traveled with his family to many places in the western United States, where he particularly enjoyed the National Park system, with Mesa Verde and Yellowstone being two of his favorites. Fred was very interested in archeology, paleontology, geography and the history of Native Americans, often displaying pride in his own Choctaw bloodline. Fred graduated high school with honors. He considered joining the Navy after they offered him a scholarship and paid for him to fly to California for a tour of a naval base. He declined though as he didn’t want to be so far from home. Fred went to SMSU in Springfield but was struck with a lifelong illness in his late teens. He wasn’t able to finish college, but continued to take classes throughout his 20s and early 30s. He took it upon himself to keep fresh his math skills, and knowledge of science, psychology and philosophy, studying various textbooks and publications daily, often keeping notes as he read.
Fred will be missed for his dry, understated wit, love of Star Trek, science and nature, and playing chess and rummy. He often handed out $2 bills to younger family members, wanting to share with them an odd and funny piece of history, and enjoyed teaching his nephews and nieces tidbits of science. He was a dear son, who truly loved his mother and siblings, telling them often.
Although in his later years, he favored a hunter green or yellow cardigan, Fred wore a cowboy hat, plaid shirts, western belt buckle and boots, for most of his adult life. He loved drinking green and black teas, eating Asian food, and always requested a German chocolate cake for his birthday. Fred was also very proud of having long hair, which he wore in a braid, for most of his adult life. And before his beard turned white, it was a reddish brown color, which he preferred to wear long, taking great pride in telling others it displayed his Scot and Irish heritage.
Fred was a member of the First Christian Church of Houston, Mo., and will be buried along with 13 other generations of McKinneys, next to his father, at Ozark Baptist Cemetery.
Fred is survived by his mother, Wanda Mozelle McKinney; his brother, Carl Larry McKinney (Beverly); and his sister, Amy Lee McKinney, along with Fred’s aunt, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, cousins and friends.
If Fred could be with us today, he’d give us a mischievous grin and say to us, “Live long and prosper.”