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Longtime SP board member dies of cancer

SOUTH POINT – Gene McKee, longtime South Point Board of Education member and friend to thousands of students died this morning after a battle with cancer.

Thursday, August 05, 1999

SOUTH POINT – Gene McKee, longtime South Point Board of Education member and friend to thousands of students died this morning after a battle with cancer. He was 67.

"I’ve known him as long as I can remember, and we’ve lost a good man," said George York, former South Point superintendent who worked with McKee for more than 20 years.

"If you wrote a book about how to be a board member, you’d have to have a chapter about Gene McKee," York said. "In the hundreds of meetings I sat through with Gene the kids were No. 1."

Selba Eugene McKee grew up in South Point, the son of the late Forest and Mary McKee.

In addition to his school board service, McKee served as pastor for 15 years at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Coal Grove and started his own business, Gene McKee Realty, in 1970, which he ran for more than 20 years.

He was an avid supporter of church youth groups and volunteered time with youth league sports in the community.

County superintendent Harold Shafer met McKee as the two moved through education circles.

"That was long ago and I have considered him a dear friend since," Shafer said. "I went up a couple of weeks ago to see him in the hospital. Gene was always there for the schools; always doing what he thought was the right thing to do. He will be really missed."

McKee’s school board term was up this year, and it was unlikely that he would have run again, Shafer said.

But York remembers the school system from the late ’60s and early ’70s, having served as South Point Elementary principal from 1971 to 1988.

And the changes that have endured until today came when McKee and others ran for board seats, York said.

"To understand the importance of the service that Gene McKee provided one has to return to the 1970s when the school system was in shambles," he said.

The system suffered from overcrowded classrooms, the need for repairs and a teacher strike, York said.

"Gene McKee came along and with others turned the system around," he said. "A new high school, renovations in all buildings and curriculum development are all areas that employees and citizens should be proud of today.

"Most importantly, however, the boys and girls who are passing through the system are reaping, and will reap for years to come, the benefit of Gene’s service and devotion to the South Point School District."

McKee is survived by his wife, Mary, and three sons and two daughters. Funeral arrangements are pending at Schneider-Slack Funeral Home in Chesapeake.