Belva Arleen McKee was born in Oberlin Kansas on December 21, 1926, and passed away in her Meridian home on November 6, 2018, at the age of 91. Belva’s name of preference was Arleen, as most people came to know her.
Arleen was the youngest child out of a total of 9 children that her parents brought into this world. Her parents, William Uehlin (father) and Nina Decker (mother), were located in Kansas.
Due to the severe hardships of living in Kansas during the 1920’s and 30’s, the Uehlin parents sent two sons (Dallas and Dale) to venture out west and find a land of promise that held potential to have a better life. The two brothers ventured into the Fruitland, Idaho area and were excited as to what they found. They returned to Kansas with their progress reports to the family, which inspired William to buy a brand new truck, load all the family belongings that the truck would carry, and move the family to Fruitland when Arleen was only 6 years old. There they found lots of trees; apple trees, apples, apple sauce, apple pies, and Nina learned to make the absolute best Apple Dumplings the world had ever seen! Life was not easy in Fruitland, money was scarce, and the family rented a garage with a dirt floor that they now called home. Nina would boil water, pour it on the dirt floor, and then compact and smooth the floor to a fine finish. She would yell at the boys as they would come in from the fields with muddy boots on and exclaim “Look at what you did to my clean floor!”
About 3 or 4 years later, Arleen and her parents, along with some of the other family members, moved to Baker, Oregon where Arleen then attended High School. Sometime later, Arleen received a letter from her brother Dallas who was living in California at this time, and asked Arleen if she would like to move to California. Arleen was working in a Candy Store in Baker for a very nice lady, and the lady offered to pay for 2 years of Arleen’s college if she would stay in Baker, continue to work for her, and then graduate from High School. The imaginative visions of palm trees, orange groves, orange trees, orange juice, and movie stars was just too much for Arleen to bear. So, without graduating from High School, Arleen moved to Berkley, California where her father William got a job working in the ship yards building ships for WWII. Arleen met Dewey Anderson, got married, and had 3 children; Arletta, Dennis, and Ronald, known by many as Ronnie.
Around, 1954 or ‘55, Arleen started working in a small grocery store in Chino, California while raising her 3 children. She climbed the corporate ladder from being a cashier to bakery manager, giving Arleen the skills she needed to successfully operate a business she would later purchase for herself. Arleen effectively went a long way in life without ever graduating from High School.
Arleen and Dewey’s relationship ended in divorce, and later she married her now husband, Howard McKee. They were married on April 22, 1960 in Las Vegas. Howard has one Son named Herbert L. McKee, also known as Herbie, or Herb.
Around 1966, Arleen and Howard moved to La Grande, Oregon, and bought a US Mail Route and passenger carrier service that served the areas from La Grande to Joseph, Oregon. Known as Wallowa Valley Stages, they operated this business for about 4 years.
Around January of 1968, Arleen and Howard bought yet another business that was located in Enterprise, Oregon that they named McKee’s Drive Inn. This establishment served hamburgers, soft serve ice cream, and steaks.
After a year or so had passed, and Arleen and Howard bought the Enterprise Hotel, and converted this establishment into a senior care rest home that was re-named Pioneer Guest Home. They operated this business for several years, and then moved to Mountain Home, Idaho where they purchased and operated a mobile home park. Later they sold this business and moved to Kuna, Idaho where they owned and operated Ken’s Cash Corner, a grocery store, The Farm Store, and The Valley Plaza Senior Care facility located in Nampa, Idaho. The Valley Plaza was at one time known as Mercy Hospital.
Due to health reasons, Arleen and Howard gave up being entrepreneur’s with a calling for them to retire, and bought a beautiful home in Meridian Greens Subdivision, located in Meridian, Idaho. The couple took pride in providing services to the community that were needed. Arleen and Howard enjoyed working with seniors and the public. Providing these services was a heartfelt calling that this couple could not ignore.
Arleen and Howard became members of Treasure Valley Church after locating to Meridian Idaho, and were members since about 2001. The couple enjoyed bible study, having church members and neighbors over to their home for food and social events often, and they enjoyed being around with friends, neighbors, and the community.
Arleen is survived by her beloved husband, Howard McKee, an extensive list of family members consisting of sons, a daughter, step-son, nieces, nephews, great grandchildren, and great-great grand children
This compilation of Arleen’s life was gathered from stories that she shared with her son Ron Anderson, and from her son’s own personal experiences that he lived and shared with both Howard and Arleen.
Written on this day of November 8, 2018 by Arleen’s son, Ron Anderson.