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Joseph Halstead "Peter" McGee

April 6, 1929 — April 27, 2024

Sullivan's Island

Joseph Halstead "Peter" McGee

Joseph Halstead “Peter” McGee, 95, beloved husband of Evelyn Moore “Patti” McGee, passed away peacefully on April 27, 2024, in his home on Sullivan’s Island.  He was a Charlestonian, a community leader, a prominent litigator, and a caring colleague to many. But most of all, he was a devoted son, husband, father, and grandfather. 


Peter was born on April 6, 1929, in Charleston, SC, the only child of his beloved parents, Joseph Halstead McGee and Madeleine Stoney McGee. Sharing his keen memories of growing up at 4 King Street and the Charleston of his youth brought him much joy in his later years.


He attended Miss Sadie Jervey’s School, Craft School, Charleston High School (1945), and Washington & Lee University, where he received his B.A. in 1950 and L.L.B. in 1952. There, he was awarded the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award and was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity.  


In 1952, Peter joined the US Navy and served as a Lt. J.G. aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS WASP from 1953-55. He cherished these Navy years and proudly wore his WASP cap. 


Admitted to the SC Bar in 1956, Peter first practiced law with Moore & Mouzon; then was a partner in Moore, Mouzon & McGee from 1964 till 1970. That year, Peter and his childhood friend Ben Moore joined Henry and Augustin Smythe to form Buist, Moore, Smythe & McGee, PA. He adored his colleagues and loved the practice of law and litigating a good case. 


During his years practicing law, Peter was involved with the South Carolina Bar Association, serving as Chairman of the Executive Committee in 1971, President of the Charleston County Bar Association from 1980-81, and President of the Senior Lawyers Division in 2002. He was recognized with the Bar Association’s DuRant Distinguished Public Service Award in 2003. Peter was admitted to the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1991 and was included in every edition of Best Trial Lawyers of America from 1983 to 2004.


First elected in 1962, Peter served two terms in the SC House of Representatives, where he was First Vice-Chair of the Judiciary Committee from 1966 to 1968. He also served as Vice-Chair of the South Carolina Tri-centennial Commission from 1966 to 1971 and led efforts to negotiate the purchase, raise the funds, and plan for the creation of Charles Town Landing. He was then elected to Charleston City Council and served with Mayor Palmer Gaillard from 1971 to 1975.


A true believer in giving back, Peter volunteered for boards and nonprofits throughout his life. He served on the Evening Post Publishing Company’s Board of Directors for twenty years and was very proud of the McGee family’s long association with the Post and Courier.   He was passionate about the work of the Historic Charleston Foundation, first serving as Legal Counsel, then on the Board of Trustees, and as Board President from 1977 to 1980. He was also involved with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and aided in the Trust’s acquisition and preservation of Drayton Hall. 


Other organizations with whom he worked included Ashley Hall School, Charleston Commission on Arts & History, Drayton Hall, the Gibbes Museum of Art, the Charleston Library Society, Coastal Community Foundation of SC, the Charleston Horticultural Society, and the South Carolina Historical Society.


Recognition for his public service included the Frances R. Edmunds Award from the Historic Charleston Foundation in 2007, the Mary Ramsey Civic Award, presented to Peter and Patti in 2017 by the Spoleto Festival, and South Carolina’s Order of the Palmetto awarded in 2020. The Joseph H. “Peter” McGee Award was established by the Historic Charleston Foundation in 2023 to recognize excellence in advocacy, community preservation, and planning.


Peter was married for sixty-two years to his beloved Patti, who predeceased him in 2022. They loved hosting, including 20 years of Spoleto Chamber Music parties, supporting each other in their civic work, raising their two daughters, and instilling in them a passion for community service.


Among his loves were reading and collecting books for his library, participating in his clubs and societies, jogging and body-surfing on Sullivan’s Island, traveling with Patti, and spending time with family. As he was fond of saying, he truly had a wonderful life.


He was a proud resident of the City of Charleston from 1929 until 2015 when he and Patti moved to Sullivan’s. He was adored by his daughters, his sons-in-law, with whom he shared a love of good humor, and his grandchildren, who called him Giggle.


Peter is survived by his daughters, Madeleine McGee and her husband F.C. “Bunky” Wichmann of Sullivan’s Island; Evelyn McGee Colbert and her husband Stephen Colbert of Montclair, NJ; and six grandchildren, Madeleine, Peter, and John Colbert; and Joseph, Lucy, and Theo Wichmann. 


His funeral service will be held on Friday, May 3, 2024, at 2:00 pm in the Second Presbyterian Church, 342 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC, followed by a reception at the Carolina Yacht Club. The interment will be private.


The family would like to express their love and tremendous appreciation to his caregivers during these final years – Mary Branton, Johnette “Porky” Collins, and Mary Hezekiah. 


In lieu of flowers, the family invites support of the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Joseph H. and Evelyn M. McGee Fund at Coastal Community Foundation or the charity of your choice.


                             ____________________________________________________


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Past Services

Funeral Service

Friday, May 3, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Second Presbyterian Church

342 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403

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