Keith McGehe #2893, retired Seattle Police Chief Communications Dispatcher, passed away Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 77 years of age. Keith was hired on April 16, 1968 and retired on July 20, 1995.
Keith was born in Dubuque, Iowa. He lived there until he was twelve. Then his family moved to Champaign, Illinois. He attended Champaign Central High participating in it’s Future Builders’ program. This high school class taught construction. The school would buy an empty lot and the students had 2 years to build a complete turnkey house and sell it for a profit. The proceeds went into the next project. Most of the labor was done after school and on the weekends. Keith graduated from the program and high school in 1962. He immediately enlisted in the Navy for three years. He served on the USS Sierra rising to the rank of boatswain mate. He was discharged in 1965. He arrived in Seattle after securing a job at Boeing. Two weeks into his new occupation he was laid off due to a strike. Within a week he started working at the Continental Can Company as a machinist. There he met Don Blair #6000R the senior Seattle Police Reserve Officer that helped lead Seattle’s Reserve Unit. Keith became a Police Reserve in 1966. He loved the work, so he applied to be a regular.
He was hired on April 16, 1968 and assigned to Academy Class 56. One of his classmates was John Nordlund #2909. Keith’s first assignment was Traffic Enforcement. His goal was to ride solos but his next assignment got in the way when, in January of 1973, he was recruited by sergeant Harold Anderson #1515 to come to the Seattle Center Detail and run the Police Reserve Unit. Keith did this for the next four years. During this time in his off-duty hours, he built his own log cabin home on a vacant lot he cleared in the greater Fall City area. He used all the training he got in his two-year high school building course. He also moonlighted at the Seattle Center’s rock shows and at all the Kingdome events where he was the log clerk and incident dispatcher for incidents inside the Dome. In 1974, he was also assigned to the Police Explorer Program. He became a member of the Police Combat Shooting Team. In late 1977, he returned to patrol at the West Central Precinct for Mark Baily #2182. Over the next five years he was involved in two traffic accidents where he was rammed by drivers ignoring his emergency equipment and disobeying traffic signals and a serious physical confrontation with a combative suspect. These three incidents resulted in back, neck and hand injuries to Keith. So he applied to Communications to become a dispatcher. His experience at the Kingdome helped him get the assignment. He was a good dispatcher. In 1991, he was promoted to Police Officer Chief Dispatcher. When this position was civilianized in 1995, he retired with 27 years and 7 months of service.
Due to his organization skills and coordinating experience with the reservers and explorers, he got a position with a company organizing teachers workshop training throughout the country. When he got tired of doing this, he became a full-time transit driver for the Mount Si Community Shuttle. Later in life he did so much volunteer repair work at his house of worship that the Snoqualmie Valley Alliance Church offered him a full-time job as Facility and Maintenance Director. His nickname there was “MacGyver” because he could repair anything with minimal materials and tools.
Keith is survived by his wife of 27 years, Julie, two daughters Mindy and Kim, four sons Josh, Jakob, Justin and Lindy and three grandchildren.