Dr. John As­bury McGee

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Obituaries -

Dr. John As­bury McGee, Jr, passed away on June 25, 2018. John was born on July 12, 1933, the lat­est of a seven- gen­er­a­tion string of McGees to be born and live out their lives in Char­lotte. He was the son of John As­bury McGee, Sr. and El­iz­a­beth My­ers McGee. The McGees and their for­bears, all staunch Pres­by­te­ri­ans, founded con­gre­ga­tions at Steele Creek Pres­by­te­rian Church, Avon­dale Pres­by­te­rian Church and Covenant Pres­by­te­rian Church. The McGee clan is Scots-Irish, with all the qual­i­ties and idio­syn­cra­sies of that tribe. John grew up on the edge of Char­lotte (which is now near Free­dom Park) with the then pas­tures and forests of Meck­len­burg County as his back yard. To­gether with boy­hood friends he rode ponies, fished in creeks, played ten­nis, and shot the oc­ca­sional quail. He of­ten went by “Doc” or “Gee”. Both nick­names fit his ca­sual, sprightly and slightly quirky style. Ini­tially, his chil­dren won­dered if he would ob­ject to these as­signed monikers, but he never seemed to mind. As a mat­ter of fact, he didn’tmind about a lot of things. John was smart, and you knew this right away. Just three years af­ter he be­gan his stud­ies at Davidson Col­lege, he was qui­etly of­fered an ex­am­i­na­tion that would al­low him to ex­empt his fi­nal year and go on­ward to Chapel Hill for med­i­cal school. Three things will tell you a lot about John McGee. One is that he fin­ished col­lege in three years (Davidson, Class of 1955). He was a starter on the of­fen­sive line of the Davidson foot­ball team - at 5’ 10” and 155 lbs. And per­haps most im­por­tantly, he met his wife, Ju­lia Lyons Crews, while he was at Davidson. Af­ter get­ting mar­ried and spend­ing four years at UNC Med­i­cal School, John served as a Ma­jor in the U. S. Army and then set­tled into a long and suc­cess­ful OB- GYN On­col­ogy prac­tice in Char­lotte span­ning three decades. He rel­ished solv­ing dif­fi­cult puz­zles with chang­ing vari­ables - such help­ing pa­tients nav­i­gate high risk preg­nan­cies. John was a jog­ger forty years be­fore run­ning be­came fash­ion­able, an avid bi­cy­cler around the Queens Road West loop, and a win­ning lo­cal hand- ball player. On the side, he played ten­nis and swam, all at the same time. We pity the younger men at the “Y” along­side him in spin class. Here was this 60, then 70, then 80 year- old man that, we are sure, who rode them­into the ground five or six days a week. He was dis­ci­plined and re­lent­less, and no doubt en­joyed a bit of soli­tude while in his high- heart-rate state. The cur­rent cap­i­tal im­prove­ments at the Dowd Y are made pos­si­ble, in part, by over fifty years of faith­fully paid mem­ber­ship dues by John McGee. He was quick, bright, and very well read. He read big, hard books, mostly non-fic­tion. He al­ways had a book un­der his arm and one in his suit­case to pass on to you. He was not the sort to keep fin­ished books around the house, fig­ur­ing that some­one else would too, or they should be re­turned on- time to the Li­brary to keep him in good stand­ing.

He was a tree-man, an amateur den­drol­o­gist, with the smallest but best stocked ar­bore­tum in Char­lotte lo­cated right in his yard. And he was a sailor, a one­time bee- keeper, and life- long do-it-your­self gar­dener. He kept My­ers Park Hard­ware and later Black­hawk Hard­ware in busi­ness, and if you went there with him it was hard to get him out as he and the staff were all old friends. Ju­lia, his won­der­ful wife and part­ner of nearly fifty years, died sud­denly in the spring of 2008. His fam­ily and friends won­dered how he would sur­vive with­out Ju­lia.

Gee, how­ever, re­jected soli­tude. When his phone rang he an­swered it: ‘ Can you play golf on Tues­day?’; ‘ Want to turkey hunt next week­end’ ‘ Din­ner Sun­day night?’ And so on. He slowly en­gaged with his warm world of friends that ex­tended from his friends on Bri­ar­cliff Road and West­min­ster Street to Fair­banks, Alaska and Scan­di­navia. In Risor, Nor­way, John be­came a reg­u­lar sum­mer res­i­dent and a mi­nor celebrity at the an­nual wooden boat fes­ti­val. He trav­eled rack­ing up fre­quent flyer miles, fish­ing in Alaska and boat­ing in Nor­way, Greece, and the Caribbean. He would come to visit his chil­dren two or three week­ends in a row, with long stays at the beach or Tampa in be­tween. When vis­it­ing his chil­dren, he would take com­mand in their kitchen at six thirty in the morn­ing, mak­ing scratch- made pan­cakes and sausages for the whole fam­ily. He shared his recipes gen­er­ously. His life­long friends at Covenant Pres­by­te­rian Church en­rolled him for a med­i­cal mis­sion trip to Mex­ico, then an­other, then In­dia. He soon be­gan treat­ing pa­tients in In­dia. He had found his call­ing, and he an­swered it. Be­fore long he was do­ing mis­sion work in In­dia every six months. At nearly eighty years old, he joined a fam­ily trip for over a hun­dred miles of cy­cling in France. Be­tween trips abroad he took his hunt­ing group fly fish­ing in the Ap­palachian foothills or turkey hunt­ing in the swamps of South Carolina. He was re­viv­ing friend­ships and pas­times first prac­ticed in ru­ral Meck­len­burg County, back when there was such a thing. He and his friends fished and walked, and sat by the fire telling the many sto­ries that fill out a long life. Gee was hap­pier at the so­cial edge than at its mid­dle. At a big party he was of­ten the one in the kitchen chat­ting with the cook. When vis­it­ing he would re­treat with­out no­tice to his room or the porch, ab­sorbed by “The Om­ni­vores Dilemma”, or “Seven Pil­lars of Wis­dom”. He was un- com­pelled by any so­cial graces to so­cial­ize when he didn’t want to. He some­times ar­rived with­out “hello” and left with­out “good­bye”.

But take him some­where and he would promptly make a new friend. He could find some­thing of in­ter­est in some­one, any­where. Gee and his new friend would stand apart from the rest, chat­ting ami­ably. Later, Gee would re­join us, proudly re­veal­ing the com­mon link he had dis­cov­ered. At the su­per­mar­ket and he would chat up the butcher. At the con­ve­nience store he’d chat up the clerk. Gee was pop­u­lar, if not mag­netic. John is sur­vived by his brother and four chil­dren. His brother, Edgar My­er­sMcGee, lives in Lex­ing­ton, Ken­tucky. John As­buryMcGee Jr’s chil­dren are El­iz­a­beth Chris­ten­berry (Chris) of Tampa, FL; Vir­ginia Richards (Roy) of Char­lotte; John McGee ( Alicia) of Blacksburg, Vir­ginia; and Mar­garet Brant­ley (David) of Spar­tan­burg, SC. He was the grand­fa­ther to ten grand­chil­dren: Tay­lor El­iz­a­beth Chris­ten­berry, Thomas Travis Chris­ten­berry IV, Ruth Carson Richards, Clara Sul­li­van Richards, Grace Valen­tine Richards, Roy McGee Bar­ton Richards, Ju­lia Adams Brant­ley, Mar­garet My­ers Brant­ley, John Thomas Cole McGee, and Leighton Joseph McGee. He adored his grand­chil­dren and cheered them on at base­ball games, school plays and soc­cer matches. A me­mo­rial ser­vice for John As­bury McGee, Jr. will be held at 11: 00 am on Sat. July 14, 2018 at Covenant Pres­by­te­rian Church at 1000 East More­head Street, Char­lotte, NC 28204. The fam­ily will re­ceive vis­i­tors be­fore the ser­vice at 9: 30 amat The Fel­low­ship Hall at Covenant. In lieu of flow­ers, please send do­na­tions to Faith, Hope & Love Men­tor­ing Pro­gram at Grace Covenant Church, 1800 South Boule­vard, Char­lotte, NC 28203 or to Catawba Lands Con­ser­vancy, 4530 Park Road, Suite 420, Char­lotte, NC 28209. JohnMcGee served on the board of Faith, Hope & Love Men­tor­ing Pro­gram for a decade.

Ar­range­ments are in care of Hank­ins and Whit­ting­ton Fu­neral Ser­vice. Please share on­line con­do­lences @ www. han­k­in­sand­whit­ting­ton. com

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