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Kee set to retire in January as Del. secretary of ag
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
DOVER, Del. (Nov. 8, 2016) — “Sometime in January,” he’s not certain yet of a date, Ed Kee will step down as Delaware secretary of agriculture and end 40 years of service in — and to — the farming industry in his native state.
Kee, 65, who said, “I have my Medicare card but I don’t feel that old,” has served eight years as ag secretary under Gov. Jack Markell who will leave office formally on Jan. 17.
Kee wants to make it clear that his departure, roughly at the same time as the governor who appointed him, should not be misinterpreted.
“There is nothing negative about it,” he said. “I wish both (gubernatorial) candidates good luck.
“And the people know that the new governor gets to select his secretary of agriculture.
“I love this job. It’s been great. But I have other things now I would like to do in my life.” That reference was to five grandchildren, living in Pennsylvania and Michigan. “I want to spend more time with them,” he said.
Since his days midway in his career, then as the University of Delaware’s Extension vegetable specialist,
Kee has written a column for The Delmarva Farmer. He has continued to do so, less often, as secretary of agriculture.
“I have one due in January,” he said. “It will be a goodbye column expressing my deep appreciation and gratitude to everyone I have worked with through the years.”
Kee received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture from the University of Delaware in 1973 and 1975, respectively, and began his professional agricultural career as the farm manager at Nassau Orchards in Lewes, Del.
He served there for three years before accepting appointment as the University of Delaware Kent County Extension ag agent in 1978 and moved to Extension vegetable crops specialist, working out of Georgetown.
In 2004, Kee was appointed as the Extension agricultural program leader and served as both the vegetable specialist and the ag program leader until his retirement from the university in 2008.
He joined the Hanover Foods Corporation as director of agriculture and served for a year in that capacity before being tapped by Gov. Markell as ag secretary.
Kee has been honored on several occasions throughout his career.
In 1996, he received the George M. Worrilow Award for Outstanding Service to Agriculture by a University of Delaware College of Agriculture graduate.
In 2005, he received the University of Delaware’s Ratledge Award for Outstanding Public Service, the highest award the university gives for public service.
In January 2008, Kee received the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service to Agriculture from then Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse.
The award was given in recognition of Kee’s then 30 plus years of meritorious service to Delaware agriculture.