Whether it was as Orangeburg’s city administrator, an Orangeburg County councilman, a United Methodist pastor, or president and chief executive officer of The Methodist Oaks, the Rev. James McGee of Orangeburg knew the value of listening to people and being impartial.

McGee, who died Jan. 3 at age 75, became CEO of the Orangeburg area’s 700-acre retirement community in 2004, a time when its financial future needed to be secured. He was simultaneously serving as pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church in St. Matthews.

Rev. James McGee

McGee was honored by the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative in 2005 as the embodiment of fairness.

He told T&D Staff Writer Dionne Gleaton, “Fairness is about relationships between more than one person. We have residents at the Oaks that expect and deserve to have a safe, healthy environment that promotes happiness and a good lifestyle. The employees expect and deserve a safe place that treats them respectfully. There’s also a community outside of the Oaks community which takes a lot of stake in its long-term existence and the connection it has to the Orangeburg families and history.”

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McGee took on the leadership role at The Oaks when others would have said “no.” During more than a decade at the helm, The Oaks provided technology and programs for 21st century senior needs.

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He began the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE, which offers patients a chance to preserve their independence by staying at home.

The Oaks also added a home-care program with technology that monitors a person’s movements and habits during the day and night.

“We did some things along and along that were innovative,” McGee told T&D Staff Writer Gene Zaleski when he retired in 2015.

Yet, not surprisingly, McGee stressed people and community in discussing his time at The Oaks.

“I appreciate the residents of The Oaks. I appreciate the board of The Oaks over the years and also the staff of The Oaks.”

New hope for future of Oaks

“One thing I was able to institute was improving communications between the staff and residents and the families,” he said. “We work in people’s homes. You treat it like their home and like they were family. You just try to give good care.”

And he cared on a personal level.

“What I enjoy is people. I want to help another person to understand how needed it is to be loved by God, what that can feel like and what it is to attempt to learn more every day about how much God loves us so that we can experience new ways to respond to that.”

James McGee said he wanted to be remembered as someone who strove to love God as much as God loves him and others. Mission accomplished.

A memorial service for McGee will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 13, at St. Paul United Methodist Church, St. Matthews. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 12, at Dukes-Harley Funeral Home in Orangeburg.

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