Prof. Larry T. McGehee Obituary

I’m still processing all of this. I’m realizing (more than anything), I’ll be processing this for a very long time…


SPARTANBURG, SC– Dr. Larry Thomas McGehee, 72, died Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008, at his residence. Born May 18, 1936, in Paris, Tenn., he was the son of the late George Eugene McGehee and Margaret Thomas McGehee. He was educated in Paris, Tenn., public schools, and was a graduate of Transylvania University and Yale University. He was retired vice president and professor of religion at Wofford College, former chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Martin, and former administrator of the University of Alabama. Dr. McGehee was an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Beta Kappa, and Kappa Alpha Order. He wrote a weekly column, ‘Southern Seen’ for more than 100 newspapers.

Survivors are his wife, Elizabeth Boden McGehee; two daughters, Elizabeth Hathhorn McGehee of Baltimore, Md., and Margaret Thomas McGehee and her husband, Daniel Paul Parson, of Clinton, S.C.

A memorial celebration will be made public at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Elizabeth B. and Larry T. McGehee Endowed Scholarship Fund at Wofford College, 429 N. Church St., Spartanburg, S.C. 29303; to the Library of Transylvania University; or to the Library of the University of Tennessee at Martin.

An online guest register is available at

Wofford College President Benjamin B. Dunlap expressed his thoughts about Dr. McGehee:

Larry McGehee was many things, as can be said of most highly accomplished people. But, in his heart, he was a classicist—it was he who coined ‘A Classical College’ as a tag-line for Wofford. By classical he meant more than a fondness for tradition. He meant a passionate devotion of the best that has been thought and said. After becoming president, I often referred to Larry as ‘our wise old Nestor,’ and, recognizing the Homeric allusion, Larry always smiled.

Larry was also an ordained minister and a theologian, and, if Saint Paul was right about faith, hope and love, Larry not only excelled in all three departments but agreed that love was the one that mattered most. He loved his family, he loved the South—especially Kentucky—and he loved Wofford College. Only his students over the past decade can truly say how much he loved those he met in the classroom, but nothing could have pleased him more than their decision to create a scholarship at Wofford in his name. On the last day of his life he watched a Wofford football game, not because football was of paramount importance to him but because one of his students was playing on the team.

Larry was a friend to all of us, and his death causes us great grief. If I might say something to make Larry smile again, it would be to note that, in addition to his two beloved daughters, he also had many sons whom he had taught and advised in the manner of wise old Nestor. And, having said that, I would add a classical reference from Homer that describes the rough and often tragic efforts of the Greeks who’d fought at Troy to find their way back home: ‘Only Nestor, who had always shown himself just, prudent, generous, and respectful to the gods, returned safe and sound to Pylus, where he enjoyed a happy old age, untroubled by wars, and surrounded by bold, intelligent sons. For so Almighty Zeus decreed.’

Welcome home, old friend.”

Wofford College – Obituary: Dr. Larry T. McGehee

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