Former Bluefield College History Professor Stuart McGehee Dies

January 22, 2010 | RSS

"He's deceased from an apparent suicide," Bluefield (WV) Police Chief Joe Wilson said. "We got the call around 7:30 last night. It was a gunshot wound."


Wilson said the incident occurred outside McGehee's residence on Monterey Hill in Bluefield, West Virginia. "He was dead on arrival," the chief said.


McGehee, 55, served as an associate professor of history and chair of the Division of Social Sciences at Bluefield College from 1985 to 1995 before becoming a professor of history at West Virginia State University in Institute. He also was the longtime director of the Eastern Regional Coal Archives in Bluefield.


"I loved the fact that he made learning history fun and interesting," said alumnus and former McGehee student Dickie McKinney. "The fact that he only ever had 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. classes was offset by the fact that on pretty days he urged us to 'blow off those afternoon classes and enjoy life. After all,' he would say, 'you are only young once.' He will be missed."


While at BC, McGehee taught Western Civilization, American History, Colonial History, Ancient History, Medieval History, and The Age of Reformation, among other history courses.


"I absolutely hated 8 a.m. classes, but I never missed one of his," said alumna Donna Fuqua Conklin. "He was an awesome professor, and he made history come alive. I loved it when he slammed the door, and I also loved the fact that people knew not to yawn in his class."


Through the years, McGehee was involved in numerous activities, organizations and committees in Bluefield and surrounding areas, including the Historic Landmarks Commission and the Alliance for the Arts Commission. In fact, he was named Bluefield's "Citizen of the Year" in 1989. He was also lead singer for the popular local band, The Bluestone Wildcats. Above all, he was as one of the most extraordinary, respected and admired professors ever at Bluefield College.


"You knew class would be interesting from day one when at 8 a.m. sharp he would slam the door, throw erasers at the chalk board and start yelling at the top of his lungs about the Renaissance, Reformation, and Western Civilization," said former McGehee student Lamont Woods, a business grad from 2002. "You knew that history and getting up at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays would be fun and memorable."


McGehee earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and his master's and doctorate from the University of Virginia. While in Bluefield, he wrote five books and more than 50 articles, essays and reviews.


"I always hated history until the day I walked into his Western Civilization class," said alumna Teresa Massey Burdick. "Any professor that would throw his shoes out the window had my attention."


To make a charitable contribution to Bluefield College in memory of McGehee, please complete and submit the contribution form below or contact the BC Advancement Office by phone at 276.326.4556. Alumni and friends are also encouraged to make memorial gifts to the Craft Memorial Library in Bluefield.