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Robert McKee, El Paso contractor, dies


On this day in 1964, Robert E. McKee, one of America's most important contractors, died in El Paso. The Chicago native moved to Texas in 1910 and started his own contracting firm three years later. By 1935 he had built the naval docks and the Marine Hospital at the naval base in San Diego. In Hawaii he built various military facilities, including the power plant at Pearl Harbor and the Air Corps Double Hangars and a 3,200-man barracks at Hickam Field. He built the largest military center in Texas, Camp Bowie, near Brownwood, in a record time of ten months. He constructed large military installations in the Panama Canal Zone. During one year he had 42,000 workers on his payroll. He was responsible for building the facilities for the Los Alamos Atomic Energy Project in New Mexico, for which he received the Army-Navy "E" award for high achievement in October 1945. In the 1950s McKee constructed several large facilities at the United States Air Force Academy. In 1959 he was the major contractor for the new Los Angeles International Airport. His company also built a large percentage of El Paso's major structures. McKee was a philanthropist and patron of the arts in El Paso, and was honored as a "conquistador" by the city in 1962. Santa Fe Industries, a holding company of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, acquired Robert E. McKee, Inc., in 1972.

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