The great communicator is silent.
Dr. Lauren S. McKinsey was born at Camp Blanding, Florida on May 4, 1943 to Gladys (Peterson) Miller and Eddie Miller while his father was serving in the OSS in Germany during World War II. Nine months after his Dad returned home Lauren's sister, Maryetta was born while the family was living near Polson, Montana. His parents later divorced. Their mother later Married S.N. McKinsey, who adopted her children, and the family moved to Great Falls where their sister, Sheryl, was born.
In his younger years, Lauren was a favorite of his teachers, a champion debater and attended Boys State, where he made lifelong friends, including Stan Holmquist from Lewistown. In 1961 he graduated from Great Falls High School as Salutatorian, receiving a full scholarship to attend Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He attended one year as he greatly missed Montana and his family and friends. The family had moved to Missoula.
Lauren finished his undergraduate schooling at the University of Montana in Missoula, then went on to receive his Masters and PhD. in Political Science from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. His academic focus was broad and included teaching, research, and writing in American Government, Federalism, Intergovernmental Relations, Natural Resource/Environmental Politics, Comparative Government and International Relations.
He was an Associate Professor and Full Professor of Political Science at Montana State University (MSU) and headed its Political Science Department from 1977-1979.
Lauren's interest in state and local government included involvement in Montana's 1972 Constitutional Convention, and numerous teaching and writing collaborations with his friend and colleague Dr. James Lopach, including the book "We The People Of Montana".
Throughout his early career Lauren felt he had unfinished business at Dartmouth College, and during a sabbatical from MSU traveled east, first as a visiting scholar at the University Consortium for Research on North America, Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and then as visiting Luce Professor of Environmental Studies at the Institute for Canada at Dartmouth College.
That work included a book of the proceedings from the first Pearson-Dickey Conference on Canadian-American relations entitled "America's alliances and the challenge of Canadian-American Relations," held at Chateau Montebello, Quebec, in 1987.
Lauren's interest in the United States and Canada also included the formation of the 49th Parallel Institute housed at MSU. As its director he collaborated with colleagues in the study of Canada with the focus on questions of comparative public policy, recognizing that the economic and environmental significance of natural resources in the Canadian West and American West will continue to create both problems to be managed and opportunities for collaboration across the border. Lauren and the Institute published prolifically, on such topics as "Borderlands reflections: The United States and Canada," "Sharing the 49th Parallel: a handbook for Canadian relations for Montana officials," "Border Waters: U.S./Canada transboundary management," and "Political integration and disintegration: the Canadian Dilemma," just to name a few.
Lauren's interest in natural resource policy perhaps flowed from his love of Montana's outdoors: backpacking in its wilderness, exploring and fishing the high mountain lakes of the Mission Mountains with his Osher and Smith cousins, and floating and fishing Montana's rivers and streams with friends and family across the state. The Smith River and the South Fork of The Flathead held precious memories
Another passion (perhaps obsession) was sports statistics. From an early age he kept track of everything about baseball (before computers) and participated in the first "fantasy " league in Helena and in Bozeman with his life-long friend Don Cowles. He never forgave Mom for throwing out his baseball cards when we moved to Missoula.
His friend Stan Holmquist enjoyed attending sporting events with him.
In 1982 Lauren married Sandy Courtnage, and they had one son, Fletcher Courtnage McKinsey. Together they shared many adventures, challenges, and a life-long love.
Lauren's professional accomplishments and contributions are many, but most were curtailed at the age of 45 when his life was terribly altered by a stroke that left him feeling trapped and unable to teach, write or communicate the way he wanted.
He is survived by Sandy Courtnage of Great Falls, his Dad, 97 year old S.N. (Mac) McKinsey of Bozeman, and sisters Maryetta Bauer of Polson and Sheryl Sanders of Bozeman. Three nieces: Kelly (Scott) MacDonald of Bainbridge Island, Washington; Kerry Bauer of Livingston and Lilly Sanders of Bozeman, as well as one grand niece, Olivia, and two grand nephews, Porter and Bryce. He was very proud of all those kids - and they have brains like him. He is predeceased by his mother, Gladys McKinsey and his son, Fletcher Courtnage-McKinsey.
There are now only 12 of the 14 cousins remaining, who used to have a romping good time together as children up the mountain on the east shore of Flathead Lake.
There are tributes from close friends who have shared recently: "We knew he was a good man and a true friend": "It was difficult to witness his frustration and struggles for 30 years, he was a wonderful friend and inspiration."
We want to thank Heidi Jacobs and the staff at Elkhorn Healthcare at Clancy, Mt. for the genuine, compassionate care they gave Lauren.
A summertime gathering in Lauren's memory is being planned at Giant Springs in Great Falls. For information please contact Maryetta at:
36997 Haack Road
Memorial gifts in Lauren's name may be made to:
MSU Foundation, directed to Political Science Scholarship
P.O. Box 1727500
Bozeman, Mt. 59715