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Kenneth Jack McGechie of Grand Junction passed away March 16, 2023 after several months of declining health. He was 84.
Ken was born in Los Angeles, California on August 26, 1938 and moved to Palisade as a child with his parents and sister. Ken graduated from Palisade High School in 1958 after starring in football and track (220-yard dash state champion) and raising cane with his good friends. Ken married his high school sweetheart, Jeanette Beck, and they raised their family in Grand Junction including daughters, Kenda and Kari, and son, Shawn. Beginning as an apprentice, Ken worked his way to being a master sheet metal craftsman at Lane & Company. Over his 40-year career he was involved in constructing many buildings throughout western Colorado including several schools, and municipal buildings as well as Colorado Mesa University and Saint Mary’s Hospital facilities.
Ken was an avid golfer and dedicated to the game. Ken served as a Colorado Golf Association Governor for 12 years. Since 1990, he volunteered as a CGA Rules Official and enjoyed officiating several tournaments every year, often helping to mark the courses before play. He also routinely gave rules seminars to local high school players.
Ken was instrumental in developing the junior golf program in Grand Junction. His involvement began in the early 1970’s with about 16 players including his son. One year, Ken took the young, impressionable golfers to Vail for the Ford Invitational to see the best pros at the time and celebrities. The youngsters met folks like Jack Nicklaus, Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason. Ken also helped organize and run the Rocky Mountain Golf Association Junior Tournament for several years. This included famous cook outs at Lincoln Park complete with steaks, burgers and corn-on-the-cob. Ken said one of the nicest accomplishments to come out of his involvement with western Colorado junior golf is the fact that from the original 16 players, at least six became golf professionals and head pros, including his son, Shawn.
Ken was also an annual fixture at the Rocky Mountain Open beginning in 1967 when he headed a committee to sell gallery tickets. In the 55 years since, Ken had a number of roles and great memories. Of course, he played in the RMO many times, and for the last several years he served as a rules official. As president of the Lincoln Park Golf Course Mens’ Club in 1976, he was responsible for overseeing the tournament. One of Ken’s proudest memories of the RMO was when his son won the amateur title in 1988. Ken also celebrated most of his birthdays during the Rocky Mountain Open. Ken said it was like being in heaven to celebrate his birthday on the golf course.
Ken was an accomplished golfer in his own right. He won or placed in several western slope tournaments. In the 70’s, it was common for Ken to be playing in the weekend Elks Lodge tournaments. Frequently, the family would take advantage of some time together camping overnight between Saturday and Sunday’s golf in the outskirts of towns like Rifle, Aspen, Glenwood, Delta, and Montrose. One of Ken’s kids would often caddy for him, and the whole family would celebrate at the local Elks Lodge for dinner at the conclusion of the tournament. When he was in his 30’s, on his birthday he shot his best score ever, a 36 in 9 holes. He had 4 holes-in-one, one at Lincoln Park and three at Tia Rado. Ken was also a western slope golf historian. Some of his research culminated in plaques he presented on both the Rocky Mountain Open past winners going back to 1939 and the Lincoln Park Golf Course past head pros going back to 1926.
Ken was also quite industrious, handy, creative and artistic. If something needed to be fixed or installed, he could get the job done, even if it required manufacturing the parts himself. He made metal sculptures and wrought iron furniture. He wrote poems for his first grandchild. He even painted festive scenes on mirrors and windows for the holidays when his children were young.
Ken is survived by his sister, Nancy Velasquez, three children, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Shortly before his passing, Ken said he was proud of all his grandchildren for completing college. In fact, all either have or are working on multiple degrees. Ken was a 55-year, lifetime member of the Grand Junction Elks Club. He also was a member of Grand Junction’s Scottish Rite of Freemasonry organization (Masons) achieving a “Master of the Royal Secret of the 32 Degree” in the club. A celebration of Ken’s life will be held later in the year.
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