Charles Herbert “Charlie” McKinney, 91, of Dewey Beach, Del., passed away at home on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. Born to the late Charles McKinney and Matilda (Witzke) McKinney on Nov. 28, 1924, family lore was that he was born in a cornfield on the family farm in Bridgeville, Del., with the assistance of Mrs. Short. The family moved to Rehoboth Beach in the mid-1930s to farm and supply produce to the local community.
McKinney served his country during World War II, as a civilian mechanic at Fort Miles, working on anything from artillery pieces to trucks and cars. He developed a love of all things mechanical and used that talent throughout his lifetime to support his family. McKinney started out with a service station and repair shop, moved on to a Nash Rambler automobile dealership and later expanded into other types of business ventures.
McKinney met Georgia Parris on Rehoboth Avenue, when he fixed her car at his garage. That repair job ended in him losing a bet and gaining a lifetime soulmate in the wife and mother of seven children in the McKinney family.
After marrying in 1948, they worked together and continued to expand the service-station work and added a bus station, motel, apartments and various other rental properties to the family operations.
In April of 1966, they purchased Pier Point Marina in Dewey Beach, where they worked side-by-side with their children to expand and provide marine services to the growing resort community. They sold and serviced many different types of boats and motors, rented marina slips and developed many close friendships with customers who continued to return year after year.
McKinney played an active role in helping to organize community and business leaders, which led to the incorporation of Dewey Beach. While his endeavors placed him in a position to develop many business relationships, he put great stock in friendship and loyalty and held those in the highest regard. McKinney valued his friends, and if anyone was in need, he could be depended upon to help.
The couple enjoyed touring the country in their RV and after retirement began spending winters in Cape Coral, Fla. They stayed busy visiting friends and family members from the Keys to Delaware. However, he always returned to Delaware for the busy summer season.
McKinney loved fishing, boating, clamming, crabbing and sailing on the Born Free. He enjoyed reading political biographies and often played cards with friends and family. In later years, he especially enjoyed card games with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
McKinney was a 65-year Master Mason with Jefferson Lodge No. 15 AF & AM of Lewes, having been raised in May of 1951, and was a 60-year member of the Evergreen Forest No. 49-Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He was also one of the first members of the Dewey Beach Lions Club.
In addition to his parents, McKinney was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Georgia; his son Gene; and his siblings Arthur, Grace, Agnes, Lula, Bessie and Sarah. He is survived by his sons, Homer, Charles McKinney Jr., Donald and Ronald; his daughters, Carla and Myra; his brother, Clarence “Buck” McKinney; 16 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.
A celebration of McKinney’s life will be held on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, at 3 p.m. at the Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium’s Atkins-Lodge Chapel, 16961 Kings Highway, Lewes, Del., where friends may visit beginning at 2:30 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the Master Masons of Jefferson Lodge No. 15; 116 1/2 Second St., Lewes, DE 19958, or to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital; 262 Danny Thomas Place; Memphis, TN 38105. Condolences may be sent online at www.parsellfuneralhomes.com.