George Oswald McKee was born in Portadown, Northern Ireland to Elsie Alexandra and Hugh George McKee. He died peacefully at home in Saint Helena, California surrounded by his family on January 13th, 2013.
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George is survived by his loving wife, Joan; children, Katie, Geordie, Heather and Adriana; grandchildren, Ryan, Elsie, Ali, Jack and Olivia. He is also survived by his sisters, Yvonne Dutton and Eithne Hobson, and former wife Pamela Seitz.
George's early years were spent in London, England in the midst of the turmoil of World War II. His 18 year old brother, Valentine, was killed while serving as a RAF Pilot when his plane was shot down over the English Channel. During the London blitz, George and his older sister Yvonne were evacuated to Sheerness in Southern England leaving his younger sister, Eithne, and parents in London. After three years, George and his sister were moved to Clabby, Northern Ireland to live with relatives.
These childhood experiences during World War II had a profound and lasting impact on George, which ultimately sparked a lifelong fascination with World War II.
His family reunited in Northern Ireland in 1945. He later attended Queen's University Belfast (Northern Ireland) followed by University of Oxford (England).
As a boy, George, affectionately known as Ossie in Great Britain, developed a love for playing both rugby and cricket. It was while playing rugby for Oxford that he first visited the United States to play against UC Berkeley. After suffering a devastating leg injury and facing post war devastation in Europe, he decided to immigrate to America. George came through Ellis Island with his cousin, Norman Ballantyne, and only $50 in his pocket.
George attended UC Berkeley on scholarship and worked at the Union Service gas station on Nob Hill to make ends meet. After receiving his Master of Engineering degree from UC Berkeley, George held positions at Peerless Pump and General Mills before embarking on his career in commercial real estate in 1964.
Throughout the following decades George was a prolific real estate developer, broker and prominent figure in the growth of what is known today as Silicon Valley. While at Renault & Handley, he partnered with Raymond Handley in the development of dozens of industrial buildings in Palo Alto, Mountain View and Sunnyvale. The two were instrumental in assisting such valley pioneers as Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, Apple Computer, Netscape and Yahoo with their early stage real estate needs.
Highly respected by his peers, George was universally well liked and considered a man of integrity. Many a young broker and developer sought his counsel through the years, and George was never too busy to take the time to mentor them or lend a helping hand.
George was also an active volunteer having served as a board member and past president for the Mid Peninsula Tennis Patrons, an organization that provided financial aid for local junior tennis players to travel and compete in national tournaments. In addition, George served on the boards of the Northern California Tennis Association, the Portola Valley Unified School District, the Palo Alto Club (where he was a past president) and was passionate in his support of Stanford University Athletics, the Cardinal Buck Club, the Daper Fund, and the Hoover Institute.
George was known for his intelligence, his continued curiosity and his intellectual striving, but perhaps most importantly for his graciousness and kind heart. He was also known for telling a great story and regaled many with tales from his childhood and the early years of development in Silicon Valley.
The hearty laugh of George McKee will live on in our memories reminding us that, although life can be challenging, we must celebrate the joy!
A memorial service for George Oswald McKee will be held at 2pm on Tuesday, January 29th at Stanford Memorial Church. Please visit morrisonfuneralchapel.com for important parking information.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be main George's name to:
Napa Valley Hospice
414 South Jefferson Street
Napa, CA 94559
Martin O'Neil Cancer Center
St Helena Hospital
10 Woodland Road
St. Helena, CA 94574
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22, 2013
Arrangements under the direction of:
Morrison Funeral Chapel
975 Vintage Ave | ST. Helena, CA 94574 | (707) 963-3536