Born in Charleston, SC, January 9, 1923, he was the son of Hall Thomas McGee and Gertrude Wyman Frampton McGee. He graduated from Charleston (SC) High School in 1939 and Davidson College in 1943.
A member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, he was President of the Eumanean Literary Society, Track team manager and Army ROTC Captain. He received his Commission at Ft. Benning and was deployed to England. He landed at Utah Beach on June 12th and was assigned to Company “D” of the 117th Infantry Regiment of the 30th Division. He saw combat from Normandy to Germany.
During the Bulge, he aided in halting the S.S. Panzers at Stavelot, Belgium. He was awarded two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star with two Clusters, five Campaign Stars, a presidential Unit Citation and French and Belgian Croix de Guerre with Silver Star and was discharged as a Captain. In 1946, he joined the Evening Post Publishing Company in Charleston, SC.
In 1961, he joined the State-Record Company in Columbia, SC, and served as general manager and associate Publisher. He became General Executive with Knight Newspapers, Inc., in Miami in 1969 and joined Clay Communications in Charleston, WV, in 1970. He became its president and guided the company from one newspaper to a holding company with five daily and three Sunday papers, and four television stations.
After the sale of the company in 1987, he served on the Board Thomson Newspapers until 1990. McGee served on the Board of Directors of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and was President of the State Press Associations of South Carolina and West Virginia. He was elected twice as a member of the Board of Directors of the Associated Press.
The McGee’s shared a passion for travel and education, which they generously instilled in children and grandchildren through shared experiences with family. After his retirement, McGee and his beloved wife, Ruth, returned to Africa to teach journalism at the University of Nairobi in Kenya and later in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. Because of his efforts in the development of a free press in Africa, he was chosen to be a poll-watcher in the 1994 election in which Nelson Mandela became President of S. Africa.
In Thailand, he continued his free-press development efforts through service on the Board of the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation and its development and distribution of a basic journalism textbook for students and working journalists throughout Southeast Asia.
The McGee’s shared a strong faith in God. They were devoted members of First Presbyterian Church in Charleston, WV. They established the McGee Foundation in Charleston, WV, in 1991, for philanthropic endeavors in the U.S., Africa and Asia, with a special emphasis on giving back to institutions in West Virginia like the Clay Center, WVU, and numerous other eleemosynary endeavors.
At Davidson, he served on both the Board of Directors and the Board of Visitors, which he chaired. The couple endowed a Visiting professorship in Writing and the Directorship of the Dean Rusk Program. McGee served as Vice-Chairman of the Charleston Area Medical Center, Vice-Chairman of the Clay Center, and Board of Directors of the United Bank.
A Rotarian, he was a member of the Huguenot Society of SC, the Cosmos Club, Edgewood Country Club, and numerous civic organizations. He received YMCA’s Spirit of the Valley Award for his lifetime of service to the people of the Kanawha Valley.
He is survived by two daughters from his first marriage to Ann Beverly Canby of Little Rock, AR., Beverly (Mrs. Archibald Hardy) of Saluda, NC, and Cathy (Mrs. W. deBerniere Mebane) of Greenville, SC, in addition to eight grandchildren: Perry Kinder Longno (Lance), Emory Kinder Wright (Jon), Will Mebane (Martha Corcoran), Harriet Mebane, John Mebane, Catharine Mebane Sturtevant (Drew), Jane Mebane Mobley, and Beverly Mebane Helms (Carter) and 14 great-grandchildren.
He is also survived by his cousin, counselor and best life-long friend, Joseph H. (Peter) McGee and his wife Patti, of Charleston, SC. He was predeceased by his wife, Ruth Bauknight McGee, who was survived by one son, Charles Smedley (Sue), and one granddaughter, Sara Jane Smedley.
A memorial celebration will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 2, at First Presbyterian Church, Charleston, WV. The family will receive friends beginning at 12:30 p.m. Visit our guestbook at www.legacy.com/obituaries/ charleston
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