J.P. McKee, Jr. was born January 7, 1919 in the small Washington County community of Leroy, Alabama. His father was John Perry McKee, Sr., and his mother was Esther Garris McKee.
He received his education in Leroy Public Schools, graduating from Leroy High School in 1937. He then attended Marion Military Institute.
From the late 20’s to early 30’s he worked with his father, a successful farmer, general contractor and a Washington County Commissioner.
One of his many responsibilities was taking care of the mules used for the farm work, road work and pulling floats for the Mardi Gras parades in Mobile. This proved to be the excellent experience he needed for his future in road building.
During his high school years he worked with his father on many jobs. One large project was with the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). He delivered light poles on his truck to homes that did not have electricity in Washington County.
During his summers he worked with his father’s company, McKee General Contractor, as foreman.
In 1940 J.P. went into business for himself and formed McKee Construction Co. He was able to purchase a few good pieces of equipment to get his company up and running.
In 1941 J.P. was drafted for service in the U.S. Army for World War II, but he was disappointed to learn that he didn’t pass the physical exam. But that didn’t stop him and his company from being part of the American war effort. Because of his equipment and his “know-how”, the Army selected his company for many government projects.
Among his assignments, McKee Construction was assigned to extend runways for military pilot training and other construction work at Notasulga, Birmingham, The Bankhead Tunnel and Bates Field in Mobile, and also stripping coal in Walker County.
The company expanded in 1945 following World War II, opening McKee Truck and Tractor to give the construction arm access to better mechanics, parts and trucks for his construction company.
When the Alabama Road Builders Association was organized in 1947, J.P. was a charter member and served on the first board of directors – a great honor for a man the age of 28.
McKee Asphalt Plant was built in 1957 in Leroy so that McKee Construction could complete a job from beginning to end. In 1968, J.P. merged the asphalt plant with McKee Truck & Tractor.
In the 50’s McKee Construction Company performed many federal, state, and county projects from clearing and grubbing, finished roads to widening existing ones. One major project was preparing the site for Olin Chemical Co. in McIntosh, Alabama.
J.P. felt it was quite proud of his work and his employees. He also believed it was his duty and responsibility to give his time and help to the communities churches, schools, scouts, Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial board just to name a few of the activities with which he was involved.
He was also influential in bringing Allied Paper and Alabama Electric Steam Plant to Leroy, Alabama.
He was a humble, kind and compassionate person to his family, friends, co-workers and especially his employees. J.P. McKee is survived by his loving wife Willie Margaret Hudson McKee.