It was late Monday evening when the Reporter got a call from the daily newspaper in Sidney, Ohio.
Reporter Patricia Ann Speelman called to inquire about a former Sidney resident who had died over the weekend here, some 2,400 miles from where he first made his mark.
Roger C. McGee, 88, died on Saturday. He lived at Covenant Shores.
“Even though it has been more than 16 years or so since he was here, Mr. McGee was a big deal in Sidney,” Speelman said. “I have saved space on the front page for the news about his passing.”
Sidney is 40 miles north of Dayton, Ohio, along I-75, about 70 miles due east of Muncie, Ind.
People whom he worked with in Sidney, a town of 21,000, where he served as schools superintendent from 1964 to 1977, have high praise for their former colleague. The story in the Sidney Daily News was long and detailed.
“Roger McGee is an icon in the Sidney City School District,” said current Superintendent John Scheu, who was hired by McGee as a teacher in 1972.
In Sidney, McGee worked with community leaders to pass the first permanent improvement levy for the school district. During his tenure, speech therapy and school psychologist programs were implemented, and libraries were constructed and updated.
But McGee knew how to have fun.
“While he was in Sidney, we would have ping pong tournaments for all school employees,” Scheu said. “The championship would always be played in Roger McGee’s basement. He was always the one to beat.”
His daughter, Rose McGee, said her parents instilled the importance of being involved in the community throughout their lives.
In Ohio, Roger McGee also served as the dean of business services at Edison State Community College and as an administrator of the Raeburn E. Barnes Trust Student Loan Program. He was chairman of the building committee for the Memorial United Methodist Church and president of Sidney Noon Kiwanis. He was a trustee of the Shelby County Group Home for Boys, the Community Action Commission and the Monumental Building. He co-chaired a capital campaign for the Salvation Army that raised funds to expand its facility.
He and his wife, Esther, moved to Mercer Island in 1996 to be nearer to family. McGee founded a men’s choir at Covenant Shores, acted in melodrama productions there and sang in the choir at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church.
He also played a good deal of ping pong with his grandsons, Rose McGee said.
In addition to his daughter, Rose, of Brisbane, Australia, he is survived by daughter Margaret McGee, of Port Townsend, Wash.; Brian McGee, of Mercer Island, and six grandsons.
His wife, Esther, died in January 2011.
Services have been held.