George Burton McKinley
George Burton McKinley passed away on June 12, 2015. George was born in Riverside, Illinois, on September 25, 1927, to George Arthur and Olga Marie McKinley. He was 87 years old. He attended Riverside High School. Turning down a scholarship to Northwestern University he enlisted in the Navy becoming a Navy pilot during World War II. George went to Boulder, Colorado, for flight school and fell in love with the state.
After marrying Harriett “Sunny” McKinley, they first moved to Denver and subsequently to Boulder where he matriculated to the University of Colorado Business School and graduated.
George believed in America and took pride in his country, especially the West. In reflecting back on his life, he was an Explorer, Entrepreneur and Endower. He thoroughly enjoyed meeting people, and his friends came from all different walks of life.
He loved exploring the outdoors by taking country roads, fishing, hunting, skiing and always looking for the next adventure. He was equally content to be in the desert or alpine peaks, finding beauty in both.
He was an entrepreneur in his soul. He started his career at the Central Bank in Denver and then was a bank officer in Boulder. At 27, he moved his family to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, to buy the First National Bank. He subsequently chartered six banks on the Western Slope, eventually selling them to a larger bank holding company, Central Bank, which he then went on to run for several years before retiring. Soon after retirement, he realized he was not ready to leave the banking industry and purchased a bank in Evanston, Wyoming. Over a period of years he again accumulated a series of banks in southwest Wyoming and sold them in 2008 after 52 years in banking. He took great pride that his banks served and helped these rural communities grow in both Colorado and Wyoming. He served on the Public Service of Colorado Board of Directors and also owned a large ranch in Western Colorado for a number of years.
He felt strongly about how important it is to give back to his community. George and Harriett McKinley were founding members of the Western Colorado Community Foundation and established endowment funds for education and health in Colorado. He later established an endowment with his second wife, Carol McKinley, at the Wyoming Community Foundation. He also anonymously supported many institutions and colleges in Wyoming and Colorado; his philanthropy will support local organizations in perpetuity.
George had four children: Thomas G. McKinley (Janet), living in San Francisco, California; Richard S. McKinley (Carolyn), living in Palisade, Colorado; Robert D. McKinley who predeceased him; and Ann M. Gianinetti (Mark) living in Carbondale, Colorado. “Papa George” felt great joy and tenderness with his ten grandchildren; Maitt (predeceased), Mandelyn, Chelci, Sara, Jason, Thomas, Kathryn, Kade, Hattie and Megan. He has one great-granddaughter, McKinley. George helped raise his first wife’s two younger siblings; Karen Jane Cowan, living in Aurora, Colorado, and Neil Thompson (predeceased). He is survived by his brother, Bill McKinley, who is living in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. His marriage to Harriett “Sunny” ended in a divorce, and she predeceased him. George was then married to his second wife, Carol Russell McKinley, and she predeceased him in 2010.
George’s favorite expression was “So Be It.” He conveyed “his expectations” in just a few simple words, and you knew exactly what was meant. George was that “bigger than life” person and made you feel that he was going to live forever.
He will be missed dearly.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family asks that donations be given in his name to any organization of your preference that will make a difference to someone.
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