Richard P. McKee, a retired PCC chemistry professor and well-known advocate for open-government, died suddenly on Saturday. He was 62. The Los Angeles County Coroner is investigating the cause of his death, said Ed Winter, an assistant chief investigator.
“Only three weeks ago we threw a retirement party for him,” said Dave Douglass, Dean of the Natural Sciences Division. “Rich was quite a phenomenal guy. He has been a huge force in the chemistry department here at PCC … Even his adversaries admired him for his perseverance and tenacity.”
McKee had been an activist for open government for almost two decades and did not hesitate to take a stand when he felt that the rights of the public were being ignored. He fought to protect the public’s right to access public records and promoted transparency in the government.
In his lifetime he took on close to 30 lawsuits, mostly pertaining to The Brown Act – California’s open meetings law – and First Amendment violations, and won the majority of the time. McKee helped found California Aware, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the public’s rights.
A longtime resident of La Verne, McKee served on the city’s Planning Commission and was reappointed last year to start his second four-year term.
He is survived by two daughters, a son and two grandchildren.
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