UNFINISHED BUSINESS: Legendary swim coach leaves legacy, memories – Great Falls Tribune | Start Classified

Robert Scott McKinnon has accomplished a great deal in his 84 years on this earth.

And he wasn’t even done yet.

Only esophageal cancer stopped him. The beloved competitive swimmer, swimming coach, banjo picker, accomplished writer, playwright and high school English teacher at CM Russell High School, who also raised greyhounds, lost a valiant battle with the disease last Thursday, July 7th.

“He was working on a radio play for the Haunted Aquarium Castle to the end…about three days before he left,” said Suzy McKinnon, his 62-year-old wife. “He was sitting at the computer, he wanted to do the radio play.

“He never, ever stopped…reached outside to catch the brass ring I think.”

The former Suzanne Cook was by his side, strapped in for the entire journey, which began when they met while Bob was producing a one-act play for a University of Montana competition. Their 62-year marriage brought son Christopher and daughter Wendy with them on the trip. And yes, they were buckled too.

That describes the marriage of Bob and Suzy McKinnon. She was “all in” — even when Bob and his dad Gus discussed building a pool in their backyard to teach swimming lessons.

Robert "bob" McKinnon taught English at CM Russell High School until 1992 and coached both high school swim teams until 1989.  McKinnon died of esophageal cancer on July 7 at the age of 84.

“Bob and Gus did a dry run at the old Holiday Inn pool (on 10th Avenue South between 14th and 15th Streets) just to see if there would be a market for it,” Suzy recalled. “I started doing bookkeeping and enrolling kids because Bob was busy at school, and I was automatically there for that job.

“Oh yes, I was on board. I mean, he’s the super swimmer and coached the age group swim team and was super successful at that, so it seemed like a natural progression of things.”

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