McGee dead at age 71

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 11, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Robert Paul McGee Jr. died last week, but his influence on Natchez leaders won&8217;t fade anytime soon.

McGee, 71, started molding minds when they were young at Sadie V. Thompson High School in the mid-1960s. He was football coach, basketball coach and shop teacher. Later he went on to serve on the Natchez-Adams School Board, and frequented city and county meetings, always ready to share a political opinion.

&8220;Coach mentored everybody,&8221; former student Roosevelt Baldwin said. &8220;Even when I got to be a grown man, Coach was still the first person I&8217;d call.&8221;

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Baldwin &8212; who said McGee gave him his last &8220;whooping&8221; &8212; went on to serve 30 years with the Natchez Police Department. He now works for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

McGee was a strict disciplinarian, and a man of his word, Baldwin said.

&8220;If he&8217;d tell you he&8217;d do something, he did it,&8221; Baldwin said.

Alderman James &8220;Rickey&8221; Gray said McGee helped him get into politics.

&8220;When I first decided to run for office he was real instrumental in helping me,&8221; Gray said. &8220;He motivated me. Where I was soft he gave me the strength and knowledge to be hard.&8221;

And McGee always let the aldermen know what he was thinking, Gray said.

&8220;He&8217;s going to voice his opinion, whether it&8217;s on basketball or politics,&8221; Gray said. &8220;And people need to be heard, that&8217;s what makes a great community.&8221;

Alderman Theodore &8220;Bubber&8221; West, a fraternity brother of McGee&8217;s, said the political minded McGee brought enthusiasm to anything he did.

&8220;He loved politics,&8221; West said. &8220;If you asked him to do anything, he was going to research it and present you with typed documents of information.&8221;

West and Gray said McGee helped form their political leadership, giving them the push to go forward.

But Baldwin admitted he&8217;ll miss the frequent advice McGee gave him.

&8220;For the Sadie V. Thompson family, he was a father to everybody,&8221; Baldwin said. &8220;He didn&8217;t care how late at night, or how early in the morning, you could always talk to him.&8221;

McGee moved to Oklahoma with family last fall due to declining health. He died Thursday. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Rose Hill Baptist Church. Burial will follow in the Natchez National Cemetery under the direction of Mackel and Sons Funeral Home.