I’ve begun what promises to be a long project for this summer: organizing and editing the work of my father, Daniel Bennett McGee.
Lots of people have written about his passing, which also happens to have occurred within a week of one of his best friends, Glen Stassen, a fact that has given pause to some in theological ethics.
Whatever his life and work meant to others, my father was and always will be my hero. I wrote a few words about him on Facebook, as odd as that may seem, because so many of his friends and students and colleagues are connected to me, or to Baylor, or the other worlds where he worked, in only in that way. For those of you with whom I don’t share a Facebook connection, here’s what I wrote about my dad:
“Last night, my father Dr. Daniel B. McGee passed away at Providence Hospice in Waco. Dad had been there a couple of days, but has been in Providence Hospital 3 weeks. A native of Anderson, South Carolina born in 1933, and #Baylor professor since 1966, he lived 80 years. A humble, soft-spoken leader, he was also a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and son, he was also so much more: an extraordinary professor and mentor, leader in theological ethics, deacon and Sunday School teacher at Seventh & James, interim pastor at Edgefield Baptist Church, Chair of Baylor’s faculty senate, leader in local school desegregation, conference of Christians and Jews, outreach to Mennonites, delegate of Baptist World Alliance, pioneer in environmental and bioethics. He was honored by Furman University for his lifelong leadership as an alumnus and Baptist, by Baylor as the Melton Endowed Chair in Religion, and by so many students and friends. Ambassador Lyndon Olson created the Daniel B. McGee Lectures in Baylor’s Department of Religion, where Dad taught Christian ethics more than 40 years. His PhD students teach and lead around the world, and so many of his students model the character that was so important to him, and that guided him in what nearly everyone he knew describes as a Christlike life. If you were sick, Dan McGee came to your bedside. If you were confused, he listened. When disputes seemed impossible or age-old ways prevented commensurable discussion about integration or equal rights or reproductive freedom, he somehow found a way to create dialog. But I think he cared most for the poor and the weak. He was the NAACP representative in a controversial school consolidation, a member of the Public Housing board in a time of racial strife, the local head of Planned Parenthood, the president of the AAUP for Texas. Dad was the guy who took the bullet for social justice.
Until his own health failed him, and for years thereafter, Dan McGee walked everywhere at Baylor, and usually home to Fort Faculty for the briefest nap and time with us. For decades he was a pilot, flying home to South Carolina or wherever work and family took us, in the Piper Arrow he shared with Jack Flanders and others. Illnesses that were with him almost all his life were no match until late in life, and even then he and mom – married more than 50 years – were there for each other and as devoted members of Seventh. As his children we were told every day how lucky we were to have Dan McGee as a father. Indeed. In heaven this Easter Sunday morning, my father is no doubt working hard on something, because the peace he so richly earned just isn’t his style.
His obituary and a Guest Book are posted at http://
There were 115 responses to the post. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was moving and thoughtful and his family appreciates it very much.
Baylor University has created a scholarship in his name, the Daniel Bennett McGee Endowed Scholarship in Christian Ethics, and I really look forward to hearing about the new, creative work that students at Baylor do with that support.