As I research different people, I develop a sense of them. I usually find myself drawn to one thing or another about them. It never fails that a sense of pride begins to bloom as I discover them, maybe for their job or community involvement or for the family they raised or the people they cared for. In researching Norm, I was struck by it all. He was a caring father and son, an athlete, a businessman, a friend, a respected and involved person in his community.
My paternal Grandfather was born John Norman McGee on December 22, 1894 in Warsaw, NY the oldest child of William and Martha Flynn McGee. At the time of his birth his father was 38 and his mother was 29. He was called Norm throughout his life.
Norm graduated from Warsaw High School in 1913, while there he was a good student and a baseball player.
He had a brother William(1898-1927) and a sister named Nora(1903-1932). William died at the age of 29 after suffering from a long illness (still working on that one) he never married. Norm and his sister Nora were close. When they both married, the relationship continued there are several pictures of the 4 of them together. Nora died of TB in 1932 at the age of 29, it must have been really tough on Norm. She left behind her husband and a 6 yr old son. Ironically her son also died unexpectedly at the age of 30. By the time by Grandpa Norm was 37 he had lost both siblings and his father. His mother, Martha lived with Norm and his family for the rest of her life.
In 1918 at the age of 23, Norm joined the military during World War I. He was assigned to 105th , Photo Section of the 1108th Aerial Squadron. He was a military photographer and was stationed just outside of Paris for the duration of his military time. He achieved the rank of Sgt. 1st Class and was honorably discharged in 1919. After completing his military service Grandpa returned home to Warsaw.
After the war, Norm went into Banking. In 1921 he moved to New York and worked for Dillon, Reed, and Co. which was a large investment house at the time. He stayed in New York City for 2 years before coming back to Warsaw in 1923 to work as a cashier for the Pike Bank. Coincidentally he and my Grandmother married in 1923…
My Grandparents most likely knew each other their whole lives. Warsaw is a pretty small place and they graduated a year apart. I have a photo album that belonged to Norm’s sister, Nora and there are many pictures of My Grandmother (Madeline) before she and Norm were married.
My Grandparents were married on a Wednesday morning October 17, 1923, with a luncheon following at My great-grandmother’s house. I am including the wedding announcement because I really just love to read them! I am hoping that some of my new-found McGee relatives can help fill in the blanks in the picture.
Norm worked at the small Pike Bank in the early 30’s until they closed in 1931. They went to New York to visit Madeline’s Brother and her mother. Norm was trying to find work, it was obviously a tough time for everyone and work was hard to come by. They ended up back in Warsaw and Norm was offered a job in 1932 in nearby Batavia with the Genesee Trust Bank. Norm worked for the bank in Batavia for the rest of his career. He was elected Vice-President in 1934 and President of the bank in 1938 and remained in that position until his death in 1952. He was very involved in his church and community. He was elected President of various organizations including Kiwanis Club and the Little League. He was also very active in banking organizations statewide.
My dad was the first born and only surviving child of Norm and Madeline. He had an infant brother, William who died at birth in 1934. By all accounts my dad had a great childhood. He was doted on by both of his parents. As he got older he remained close to his parents. There are several copies of letters in which my Grandpa was advising and helping my dad make decisions about his future. There are a couple of letters that Norm wrote to different Universities inquiring about things my dad was interested in and what advice they had to give. I was especially surprised to find out that my Dad was interested in becoming a Chiropractor at one point – I had never heard that!
Norm died of a massive heart attack at home on March 29, 1952 at the age of 57. It was very sudden and unexpected, he and my grandmother had hosted friends at their home earlier that evening. The funeral took place at St. Mary’s in Batavia and he is buried next to his infant son at St. Michael’s in Warsaw.
None of my siblings or I ever had the chance to meet our Grandpa Norm. However there are probably more pictures of Norm and his family than any other relative I am researching. The bad news is that most of them aren’t labeled…It is just one of my many projects to work on! The amount of pictures is surprising because of the time period – it wasn’t like they were all carrying cameras in their pockets. The are especially great because they are all so candid and not posed. I have to say that they look like my kind of people! They were always smiling and goofing around plus there is usually a dog in picture. In almost every picture of Norm he had a pipe in his mouth They look like a close family and that they enjoyed hanging around each other! I am especially proud of my Grandfather and wish I had the opportunity to have know him in person.