Former Butler County grocery store giant remembered as a go-getter

Charles “Lee” McGee was a man ahead of his time.

“He was a ‘getter done’ guy before there was such a thing,” said his daughter, Terri Norvell.

He arrived at the family business, McGee’s grocery store, by 7 a.m., worked there all day, changed clothes, then tended to the 200-acre family farm in Madison Twp.

“A go-getter” is how one of his sons, Mike McGee described his father.

Lee McGee, who owned five grocery stores and one slaughter house at the height of his family business, died Saturday at the Winfield of Middletown. He was 89.

He served as owner/operator at McGee & Sons, which his father founded in 1942 and where almost all the family worked for many years. It was the largest grocery store operation in Butler County for decades, including raising and processing cattle and hogs and selling retail and whole meat later as McGee’s.

Mike McGee said his father gave all three children “every opportunity” to be successful, and despite his heavy workload, rarely missed one of their activities.

McGee said his parents traveled the country and watched many of his PGA tournaments, and unlike parents much younger today, never asked for a spectator golf cart.

Norvell said she lived a “dream childhood” with the “best of both worlds” since she worked in the grocery store and at the farm. She remembers one summer day when she held a nickel in a slot on a piece of farm equipment so her father could finish planting the last five acres before dark. She said the nickel allowed the equipment to work properly.

Norvell said after graduating from Miami University with a marketing degree, she wanted to leave the family business. But her grandfather, Charlie McGee, told her she could be in charge of marketing the grocery business.

McGee, a 1952 Middletown High School graduate, married Alma Jean Wright McGee on May 14, 1955. They were married 61 years until her death in 2016.

Norvell said her mother was her father’s “rock” and after her death “he never was the same.”

McGee belonged to many civic clubs such as 4-H, Kentucky Colonels, Kiwanis, Butler County Fair Board, several car clubs, and served as a Madison Twp. Trustee. His family and farming were two of his greatest passions, his children said. In winter he hooked his Jeep up to a huge red sleigh and took his family and friends on snowy sleigh rides on the farm.

He’s survived by his children; daughter, Terri (Steve) Norvell, sons, Mike McGee, Rob McGee, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Baker-Stevens-Parramore Funeral Home, 6850 Roosevelt Ave., Middletown. Funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home followed by burial at Elk Creek Cemetery.

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