Harley James McKinney, 74, of Rock Springs, Wyoming, passed away on Sunday, May 5, 2013, at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. A long time resident of Rock Springs, Wyoming, Mr. McKinney died of complications due to leukemia .
He was born on April 23, 1939, in Basin, Wyoming, the son of the late Cleo James McKinney and Eleanor Etta Stearns.
Harley attended schools in Emblem and Greybull, Wyoming, and graduated as Salutatorian of his class in 1957. He then attended the University of Wyoming and received his Bachelors Degree in Petroleum Engineering in 1961. After graduation, he served as a helicopter mechanic while in the United States Army during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1964.
After he was honorably discharged from the service, he was employed in the Middle East and Canada as a Petroleum Engineer. In 1969, wanting a change of pace, he returned as a student to the University of Wyoming and received his Juris Doctor Degree in 1972. He remained at the University for the next 5 years, this time as an employee. Harley then began practicing law in Rock Springs as a partner in the law firm of Pickett & McKinney, then later partnered with Steve Palmer, and eventually in both individual private practice and directly with Rocky Mountain Casing Crews until the time of his passing. He was a life time member of the Western Plains Historic Preservation Association Incorporated, Wyoming Bar Association and was past Exhaulted Ruler of the BPO Elks Club Lodge # 624.
Harley had a wide and varied number of interests including travel, history, art and music. He was a veracious reader and was constantly striving to expand his knowledge of all things, believing that a person should never stop learning. He also devoted a tremendous amount of time and heart to several youth programs. Harley’s greatest joys, however, were found in helping others, bringing love and laughter to everyone he met, and in celebrating life. In line with this, his life will be celebrated, not mourned, in typical “Harley fashion” (bright, fun attire – no black please). Following cremation, an informal gathering will be held beginning at 5:00 p.m., on May 23rd, 2013, at the Sweetwater County Events Complex, 3320 Yellowstone Road, Rock Springs, Wyoming. Military Honors will be conducted at 6:30 p.m.
Survivors include two daughters, Tracy O’Neal and companion John Kumer of Rock Springs, Wyoming, and Toni Jo Belcher and husband Jon of Green River, Wyoming; daughter-in-law Carol Nelson Nuhn of Cheyenne, Wyoming; nine grandchildren Jessie Ray O’Neal, Connor O’Neal, Brianna Belcher, Brandy Belcher, Brody Belcher, Braxton Hathaway, Aleia Belcher, Lyza Verosky and Sawyer Verosky; several cousins including Carol Higbie and husband Ed of Cody, Wyoming, and Lela Jones and husband Carl of Lander, Wyoming; as well as being survived by dozens of surrogate children and grandchildren, and a countless number of dear, valued friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents Cleo and Eleanor McKinney; one brother Loni McKinney; daughter Jennifer Julius-McKinney; nephews Jim McKinney and Patrick McKinney; and niece Kathy Garretson.
The family of Harley McKinney respectfully suggests that donations in his memory be made to Harley McKinney Memorial Fund, c/o First Bank, P.O. Box 820, Rock Springs, Wyoming 82902
The donations will be distributed to various youth organizations that Harley supported during his life.