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Welcome to the memorial page for

Rev. Robert Leon McKim

June 7, 1926 ~ July 8, 2017 (age 91)
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Rev. Robert Leon McKim, age 91, of Dover, passed away at home with his four children by his side, on July 8, 2017.

Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, he was the son of the late Leon Youker and Ruth Granger Butler McKim.  

Bob graduated from an accelerated high school program at Baltimore City College in June 1944.  With World War II on, he served with the 624th Field Artillery Observation Battalion 1944-1946 and deployed to the Pacific for staging for the invasion of Japan.  He earned medals for Good conduct, Asiatic Pacific Theater, Philippine Liberation, Army Occupation (Japan), and World War II Victory.  He graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a BA in History in June 1950 and from Princeton Seminary in June 1953. He was ordained by the Presbytery of Baltimore in June 1953, and installed in Dover in October 1953.

He received the Call to the pastorate in Dover and went on to a 35-year career at the Dover Presbyterian Church, becoming a beloved pastor for the local congregation. He served with his wife of 62 years steadily by his side, the late Sarah Alexa Andersen McKim.

It was during his tenure as minister that the membership of the Dover church became integrated, and when reflecting on his accomplishments at the church, he listed this change as his first and foremost accomplishment.  He went on to record additional achievements: receiving 1300 members into the congregation; ministering to many “friends” of the congregation; providing hospitality and shelter for individuals and families; serving generations of church families, in one case up to six generations; assisting with research and writing the 250-year history of the church, Bridge Across the Years; innovating worship, including rearranging the pews so that worship was “in the round;” working with dozens of children in children’s choirs and being told years later about how much was learned in those days; being accessible to the needs of the congregation, even if it meant sermon-writing had to be done late Saturday night; living by the principle and conviction that nothing in life is more important than other people and human relationships.

Missing from his self-generated list above are the major capital campaign and the construction of the educational wing in 1957 and the installation of the Skinner pipe organ, completed in 1962, with work done largely by congregational members under his direction and based upon his personal experience and knowledge.  He oversaw the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the church.  The anniversary celebration included a choir presentation of the Elijah, which he directed.  During his 35 years, he often directed the choirs of the church, practicing and training with them so that they would stand and sing independently during services, while he sat quietly and listened.

Beyond the local congregation, Bob McKim provided emergency service for every one of the pipe organs in Dover.  He was a member of the Dover Clergy Association, Delaware State Council of Churches, Delaware Ecumenical Agency, Community Concert Association and AIDS Support System.  He participated in “Christian Neighbor” program of assisting disadvantaged in the community.  In the early 1960s, he helped develop “Concerned Citizens”, a group of interracial leaders working to stay alert for and avert any destructive racial agitation that was occurring  in Milford, south of Dover.

Within the denomination, Bob was active at the Presbytery level, serving as Commissioner to General Assembly 1959, 1980, Moderator of New Castle Presbytery 1964-65, and on administrative commissions and taskforces.  He was assigned to the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly 1978-1983, and Vice Moderator and Moderator of the Synod of the Chesapeake 1982-84.

He is survived by his four children: Mary Herrera (Armando) of Dover, DE;  Robert Lee Butler McKim (Becky) of Stillwater, MN; Margaret Iplenski (Raymond) of Hartley, DE; and Elizabeth Osborne (Travis) of Luray, VA.  He is also survived by his ten grandchildren: Joshua, Sarah, Robert, Christopher, Andrea, Mary, Alexis, Ray, Megan, and Joel, and six great grandchildren: Robert, Joshua, Isabella, Sofija, Edward and Alexa.  As “Papa,” he found joy with his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and he was truly beloved and adored. 

A worship service in his name will be held on Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 1 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Dover, , followed by a Reception in the Social Hall.  In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to Meals on Wheels of Kent County, 1121 Forrest Avenue, Dover, DE 19904 or to the Presbyterian Church of Dover, 54 S. State Street, Dover 19901.

The family would like to thank the caregivers of Bob, and especially Lori Miller, for the extraordinary care given over the past two years in his home.  They are deeply, deeply grateful.

Letters of condolences may be sent and guest book signed at

 Service Information

Memorial Service
August 26, 2017

1:00 PM
Presbyterian Church of Dover
54 S. State St.
Dover, DE 19901

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