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Henry Wadsworth McGee, Jr.

Henry Wadsworth McGee, Jr. was a distinguished law professor, civil rights activist, and housing advocate. Known as Hank by his many friends, he was born in Chicago, IL, on December 31, 1932, to Henry W. McGee, Sr., the city’s first Black Postmaster, and Attye Belle Truesdale McGee, a schoolteacher. He was predeceased by his parents, and his sisters, Sylvia Morrison and Marguerite Porterfield, and his niece, Melinda Gibson. He is survived by his wife, Victoria Kill, his sons, Henry W. McGee, III, P. Byron K. McGee, Kevin T. McGee, Gregory R. McGee, Erik C. McGee, and his daughters by marriage, Kristin E. Lo Conte and Melanie K. Kill, by his grandchildren, Honor S. W. McGee, Elizabeth M. Paul, Alana M. Coker, Erin L. A. McGee-Midy, and his grandchildren by marriage, Augustus C. Lo Conte, Sonja V. Trudell, Brandon L. Sanchez and Bianca Y. Nava, by his great grandchildren, Jay Lundy III, Honor Josephine Lundy, Mario Paul, Jr., Meredith Paul, Madeline Paul, Maxwell Paul, William Coker, Theodore Coker, Benjamin Coker, Alfonso Nava, and Abeni Nava, and by his nephews, Paul Gibson and Alan Porterfield. 

McGee earned a B.A. from Northwestern University in 1954 and a J.D. from DePaul University in 1957, where he served as Law Review Editor-in-Chief. Following graduation, he worked as a government prosecutor, private firm litigator, and regional director of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity Legal Services Program.  As a National Lawyers Guild volunteer, he traveled to Mississippi in Freedom Summer 1964 to defend Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee members arrested for assisting Black voter registration. 

After earning a Master of Laws degree from Columbia University in 1969, McGee embarked on a storied decades-long academic career and held tenured, and later, emeritus, positions at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law and at Seattle University School of Law. He was part of a distinguished cohort of Black law professors who were the first Blacks hired at their law schools. He was twice awarded Fulbright Fellowships, and he lectured extensively abroad, speaking and publishing in both English and Spanish. He was a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University in 1973 and served as a Fellow of the Mexican Academy of Private International and Comparative Law.  

McGee was an accomplished violinist with a lifelong passion for music.  He played with the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra and other community groups.  

Professor McGee retired in 2015 at the age of 82 and was honored by the Metropolitan King County Council for “a career and life dedicated to racial and economic justice.”  During his lifetime, he devoted himself to community service and was a board member of the Seattle Low Income Housing Institute, Futurewise, Seattle Breakfast Group, Museum Development Board for the Seattle Art Museum, and a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. 

Henry W. McGee, Jr. died peacefully at home at the age of 91 on March 17, 2024. His memorial will be held at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, May 4, at Seattle First Baptist Church.


Condolences to all of my cousins. Corky (Hank) was an amazing scholar and advocate for the arts. He will truly be missed. I would like to reach out to all of my cousins and ask that you keep my email address and contact me when ever you pass through Virginia., I am the Grandson of Rev. Ford Washington McGee.

Bill McGee

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