Former Bronco Football Standout, Entrepreneur Jim McKinley Passes Away
"Western Michigan lost a true Bronco and one of the University's greatest supporters this weekend," commented WMU Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard. "I have known Jim through my entire career at WMU, and no one was more proud to wear a letter jacket for the Brown & Gold.
"Jim never forgot the opportunity head football coaches Merle Schlosser and Bill Doolittle provided him, and throughout his life, believed strongly in teaching and positively affecting lives of youths. He began his career coaching and continued to give back in countless ways over the years. His memory will live on through the opportunities he has help create."
"Jim was a great friend of the Broncos and, as a former coach, a great source of knowledge for me personally," said current WMU head football coach Bill Cubit. "I very much enjoyed our visits with one another while in Florida and he will be greatly missed. I will cherish our friendship, and my thoughts and condolences are with his family."
McKinley lettered at Western Michigan in football in 1963, ‘64 and ‘65, following a standout prep career at Bangor High School. He started at tight end his final two seasons and was one of the last Broncos to play on both sides of the ball, also seeing action on defense in four games as a senior. Majoring in business, he earned a bachelor's degree from WMU in 1966 and later a master's degree from Eastern Michigan in 1975.
Upon graduating from WMU, McKinley served as the head football coach at Allegan High School, where he amassed a five-year record of 30-11-4, winning three straight conference titles (1969-71). He then worked as an assistant football coach and defensive coordinator at Eastern Michigan for two years (1971-72), before becoming head coach at Central State (Ohio) in 1973. McKinley was next the head coach at North Carolina A & T and later that school's athletic director (1978), before becoming head coach at Prairie View A & M (Texas). In 15 seasons as a head football coach, McKinley enjoyed 12 winning seasons.
In 1984, McKinley joined the USFL's professional ranks as linebacker coach with the Oklahoma Outlaws. When that league folded, he became the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at the University of Missouri. McKinley also helped found the Heritage Bowl which ran from 1991-99.
Having sold insurance part-time over the years, McKinley moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in 1987 and founded McKinley Financial Services, Inc. Under his direction as its namesake and president, the company grew as one of the largest minority-owned owned insurance agencies in the United States, and maintains its prominence today.
Through the years, McKinley's business acumen and entrepreneurial success were recognized repeatedly, as he was inducted into the Western Michigan Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992, the Nova Southeastern University Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Broward/Palm Beach Junior Achievement of South Florida Business Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2005, he was named to the WMU Football All-Century Team and in 2007 he was a recipient of the WMU Alumni Association's most prestigious honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award.
McKinley's generosity was more than visible through his ongoing commitment to community organizations and youth development programs. An avid supporter of Bronco Athletics, McKinley made numerous financial contributions to the department and assisted in facility enhancements. He also established the McKinley Financial Foundation Endowed Scholarship to benefit students in both the WMU College of Education and Human Development and the Haworth College of Business. He served on Western Michigan's Alumni Association Board of Directors for six years and remained closely connected with his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi.
Visitation services for Jim McKinley will be held Friday, July 13 from 5-9 p.m. at McWhite Funeral Home, 3501 W. Broward Bld., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. 33312, and funeral services will be held Saturday, July 14 at 11 a.m. at the Ascension Peace Presbyterian Church, 2701 N. State Rd. 7, Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. 33312.