As of 12:00 noon on Monday, April 21, 2008 -- the building affectionately known as "B&T" will be renamed the McKee Business & Technology Complex, in honor of McKee Foods company founders O.D. and Ruth McKee. Who knew how far their $200 down payment on a financially troubled Chattanooga cookie bakery would go in 1934? While O.D. traveled to build sales, Ruth kept the books, hired workers, and managed the plant. Their business philosophy included such principles as Be honest. Be willing to change. Value your consumers. Demand the best of yourself and others. Find a niche and fill it. Treat people right. Be confident in your abilities. Take reasonable risks. Don't be discouraged by setbacks. Be ethical. Find a better way.
Both McKees had worked their way through Southern Adventist University (formerly Southern Missionary College), a Seventh-day Adventist educational institution near Chattanooga, and in the mid-1950s, they accepted Southern's invitation to move the McKee Baking Company into a 32,000-square-foot building on the campus. In 1960, the McKees decided to use the image of their granddaughter, Debbie McKee, in her favorite cowgirl hat for the logo, and the "Little Debbie" line of products was born. The rest, as they say, is history.
The McKees shared a love for God, family, and country. They believed in giving back to the community, to their church, and to their employees. Today, the business is family-owned, and their commitment to philanthropy is shared by the second and third generations.
The McKee family has been active in their support of Christian education as well as Oakwood University through the years. Our thanks to the McKees for their generous gift to Oakwood, which is underwriting the Bradford-Cleveland-Brooks Leadership Center and the McKee Business and Technology Complex. Their interest and generosity is helping to educate and empower future servant leaders for God and humanity.
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