Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 13, 2010

Friends, colleagues lament passing of McGehee

BLUEFIELD — Friends, co-workers and city officials remembered Dr. Stuart McGehee Wednesday as not only a popular professor, but as a historian who devoted his life to preserving the rich history of the Pocahontas coalfields.

McGehee, 55, a professor of history at West Virginia State University and long-time archivist of the Eastern Regional Coal Archives at the Craft Memorial Library in Bluefield, was found deceased by police outside of his Bluefield residence around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

McGehee died as a result of a single gunshot wound. Foul play is not expected in his death, Patrolman R.D. Davis, of the Bluefield Police Department, said.

“He’s deceased from an apparent suicide,” Bluefield Police Chief Joe Wilson said. “We got the call around 7:30 last night. It was a gunshot wound.”

McGehee, who previously served as chairman of the Division of Social Sciences at Bluefield College, was asked in 1984 to assume the position of archivist at the newly opened Eastern Regional Coal Archives. It was an assignment he accepted with vigor.

“He got very excited about it,” Eva McGuire, who worked alongside McGehee at the Eastern Regional Coal Archives, said. “It was very evident when you listened to him talk. He just had a great love for the history. He didn’t grow up here. So he had to learn all of this. He did his research. He would talk to people. He would read articles in the newspaper and other secondary sources. He really came to enjoy this area, and loved the people he met along the way.”

McGuire said McGehee was devoted to maintaining a living history of the great Pocahontas coalfields.

“He believed that history should be something living — not just a bunch of boring dates and names on history books,” McGuire said. “He wanted kids and others to know that history is alive. That it was real people and real events. It forms what we have today, and influences the current history and current lives.”

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