October 18, 1930 – February 19, 2014 Billy Reid McGee was born in Pike, Texas on October 18, 1930 to Mary Myrle and Moreland McGee. At age 5, Myrle married W.A. Jackson and Bill grew up with older stepbrothers Dean, Bill, James, Fred and Chester Jackson. He attended Leonard High School and participated in all sports. He worked his way through college, and after graduating from East Texas State Teacher’s College, entered the U.S. Air Force and began pilot training. He later earned a masters degree from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Bill’s decorated military service ranged from flying heavy transport planes in his early career, to serving in the Presidential Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. He participated in countless military missions, including a tour as a rescue commander in Vietnam, attained the rank of Colonel and retired from the Air Force in 1978 after serving 25 years.
After retiring from the military, Bill McGee was fondly referred to as “The Colonel.” He loved being a pilot, and continued to fly in the civilian world for another 30 years, during which time he managed and flew corporate and privately owned jets. He mentored several young pilots in the Dallas area and retired from flying altogether at the age of 76—after a 55-year career and having logged tens of thousands of flight hours.
Bill McGee is survived by his wife of 60 years, Patsy (McWhirter) McGee, and his daughters Lynn McGee of Brooklyn, New York, and Diane McCormick (and son-in-law Tracey McCormick) of Charleston, South Carolina. He is survived by his brother James Jackson and by Larry McGee, and his grandchildren Daniel Allison (and wife Julie Allison), and Jennifer Allison, all of San Francisco, California; William Davis of Portland, Oregon; Patrick Davis of San Angelo, Texas; Spencer Davis (and wife Melody Davis) of Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Laura Davis of Clarksville, Indiana. He is preceded in death by his parents Myrle Jackson and W.A. Jackson, and his daughter Pamela Davis.
When Bill was diagnosed with leukemia at age 76, he and Pat had already been serving as guardians to grandson Patrick Davis, having assumed that role when their daughter Pam died at age 42. They also made it possible for her other children to attend college, and it was their privilege to provide care for Bill’s mother, who was blessed to live to age 97.
In the seven years after his diagnosis, Bill McGee continued to live his life to the fullest extent possible. He and his wife Pat regularly visited and looked after Patrick, and traveled to visit friends and family all over the country, attending grandchildrens’ graduations and weddings in California and Indiana; family reunions and holidays in San Diego and Charleston; reunions with old Air Force friends in Delaware—where the McGee family lived several years and all three daughters were born—and a few cruises and vacations in the Florida Gulf area.
In Bill’s final days, many visited his hospital room, tearfully sharing stories of his generosity, quick wit and outgoing, friendly nature. He made a lasting impact on everyone from his doctors to the kids who work at the dry cleaner’s, one of many places where it was not unusual for him to show up with a box of doughnuts. Bill McGee was known for his intelligence, his deep sense of fiscal and familial responsibility, and his gregariousness. He was a devoted son, and was generous with his family and many others. He leaves an empty space in the world that will be felt by countless friends and family who loved him.
A Visitation will be held on Saturday, March 1 at 1:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Leonard, 206 N. Main Street in Leonard, Texas, followed by a Celebration of Life in the sanctuary at 2:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, if you wish, please contribute to the charity or church or cause of your choice to honor Bill’s life.