Key West CitizenFebruary 24, 2016

PATRICK NEAL McGEE

Patrick Neal McGee, 77, died Feb. 15 in Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach from complications from lung cancer, which was discovered less than a month ago. He was the husband of Sophie Shambes McGee. They had been married 47 years.

Patrick and his wife were half-year residents of Key West, living in Truman Annex’s shipyard, but spent summers in Bay View, Michigan. They previously lived for decades in Flint, Michigan, where he operated a successful Irish pub and restaurant, Paddy McGee’s.

In retirement in Key West, Patrick was a volunteer at the Key West Eco-Discovery Center and on the USCG Mohawk (US Coast Guard Cutter) Museum now a Veteran’s Memorial Reef. 

He learned to make pottery in classes at Florida Keys Community College and the Crooked Tree Art Council of Petoskey, Michigan. He also was a graduate of the City of Key West’s Ambassador Club and of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office’s Citizen Police Academy. 

A shrewd assessor of antiques, he regularly visited yard sales and antiques fairs. He enjoyed Tuesday morning bocce with his wife and friends and riding his dog, Luigi, in his bicycle basket around Truman Annex.

He was born March 31, 1938, in Oelwein, Iowa, the son of Robert and Margaret (Dwyer) McGee. However, he grew up in Flint and attended Flint Central High School.

In 1966, he became a court clerk for federal Judge Stephen J. Roth, who had been nominated by President John F. Kennedy. Judge Roth’s Eastern District included Detroit, Flint and Bay City. 

After the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education (in Kansas) that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional, Judge Roth ruled on a case from Detroit. His integration plan, in which Patrick was heavily involved, mandated that 54 school districts in metropolitan Detroit must bus students into the city. A later, more conservative Supreme Court, reversed the ruling in 1974, the same year Judge Roth died. And Patrick, who had a warm relationship with the judge, retired from the court.

On Feb. 14, 1977, Patrick opened Paddy McGee’s Food and Spirits in Flint, decorated with original Irish mirrors, advertising and d├ęcor collected from numerous trips to Ireland and Britain. Live Irish music played on weekend evenings, and the Irish Rovers once stopped by after a performance at Flint’s Whiting Auditorium to play an encore and enjoy a pint or two of Guinness. Paddy McGee’s closed March 31, 2001, with a celebratory Irish wake to bid farewell to its loyal clientele. Patrick was a discerning connoisseur of good ales, lagers and stouts.

He was a loyal member of the Key West, Flint and Petoskey (MI) Rotary Clubs and a recipient of the Rotary Foundation’s International Paul Harris Fellow Award.

Besides his wife, he is survived by a brother, Jack McGee, of Grand Bland, Michigan; a daughter, Suzanne Whitehill of Saline, Michigan; two step-children, Lynn Crawford Haddad of Birmingham, Michigan, and William J. Crawford of Flagstaff, Arizona; and seven grandchildren. He was predeceased by three siblings.

A family memorial service will be held this summer in Bay View, Michigan.