ACKERMAN â€” Mr. James Patterson McGee, 81, churchman and retired engineer, died Sunday May, 2012 at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.
Funeral services will be at Ackerman Baptist Church at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, 2012.
Visitation will be at Coleman Funeral Home in Ackerman on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 from 5-8 p.m.
McGee was born on Feb. 22, 1931, in Winston County. He was profoundly talented mechanically as far back as his early teenage years, when he salvaged and rebuilt a disassembled motorcycle that he rode for years afterward. At the age of 20, he earned a mechanic certificate from General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich.
While serving in the U.S. Navy on a seagoing tug from 1951 to 1955, he built and raced motorcycles with a fellow sailor, Jerry Usher, of the Unser racing dynasty.
As a Navy diver, he participated in the stabilization of the sunken U.S.S. Arizona in his home port of Pearl Harbor, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also witnessed the world's first detonation of a hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll in 1951.
After the Navy, he began a 43-year career with Taylor Machine Works in Louisville, rising to the position of service engineer and training specialist, a job in which he traveled to all 50 states in the United States and numerous other destinations in North America, South America and the Pacific.
He served as a deacon for 50 years at Ackerman Baptist Church, as well as in a variety of other capacities, including chairman of the deacons and Sunday school teacher.
He volunteered his mechanical talents on numerous occasions, helping with the repair and maintenance of the church's heating and air conditioning systems.
He was a member of The Gideons International.
He is survived by his wife, Mary McGee of Ackerman; daughters, Patsy Myers (John) of Columbia, S.C., and Cathryn Woods (Joe) of Maumelle, Ark.; brother, Gerald McGee of Louisville; and nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by sister, Lila Nell Miller.
Memorials may be made in memoir of Mr. McGee to the Ackerman Baptist Church Family Life Center.
To sign the family guest registry, visit http://www.colemanfuneral.com