Jean B. McGee, 82, of Mauldin, SC, passed on March 23, 2021 in the company of loved ones, from complications of leukemia. She will be forever loved by her life partner Bill Reynolds; her daughter Vera Jean Cole and husband Marty Simon; her son Trey Cole and wife Jenny, grandchildren Katherine and fiancée Kelley, Will and wife Dee, and great granddaughter Nathalie; her daughter Susannah Baldwin and husband David, grandchildren Joanna, Connor, Gabriel and Grace; her daughter Barbara Brown and husband David, grandchildren Glenn and Elizabeth; the family of her sister Mary Summerlin (deceased); her brother Smith Bouknight and family; her partner’s sons Mike, Joe and Jay Reynolds, and her beloved community of extended family and dear friends.
The daughter of Luke and Vera Bouknight, Jean grew up on the family farm in Starr, SC, where they grew cotton and cattle, and raised scuppernong grapes they sold and jellied, vegetables they pickled and canned, and flowers to enjoy and share. Jean graduated from Hannah High School in Anderson in 1956. The homeplace remained dear to her throughout her life, spending many happy times in the gardens and fields, and rocking on the porch with family.
After the birth of her first two children, Jean and family moved to Greenville. She attended Furman University earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1970 followed by a Masters of Education at Clemson University in 1977. She was a retired teacher in the Greenville County School District, where for her last 24 years she served as a Title 1 tutor for disadvantaged children. An extraordinary teacher, she had a knack for connecting with students through music, poetry, and conversation, in ways that helped them learn their studies and touched their lives. Long after retiring, she would get thank you notes from students whose lives had been made better by knowing her. She published a collection of “word pictures” paying tribute to these children, calling them her life tutors. Entitled “Five Bikes,” the book was inspired especially by one student in particular, Dr. Nathan Brown, who remained a dear friend throughout her life.
If asked her favorite hobbies, Jean would say reading and gardening. She loved literature, poetry and philosophy, leaving volumes of tattered books, margins filled with notes, questions, inspirations. Some of her favorites were Emily Dickinson, May Sarton, and Eckart Tolle. She also wrote poetry, inspired by nature, reflecting family and mulling life.
Jean was a gifted photographer and artist, but her favorite artistic medium was her yard–plants, flowers, trees, winding paths, bird baths and feeders, fairy garden, trusty potting table. For her, a day puttering in the yard was pure heaven. She was a Master Gardener, and member of the Mauldin Garden Club.
An avid family historian, Jean added to work begun by her father, tracing family roots back for generations, complete with photographs and family lore, leaving a remarkable legacy for her family.
Jean and Bill shared their time between Mauldin and their home on the shore of Lake Greenwood in Cross Hill, SC. She loved the water, enjoying water skiing and kayaking, beautiful sunsets, and long boat rides, often under the stars.
Jean was a member of the Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and considered it a great gift in her life and to that of her family.
Remember Jean as you best see fit, she’d like it that way. No flowers please. If you do wish to make a donation, she’d appreciate your support of the Meyer Center for Special Children (864-250-0005) or the Greenville UU World of Children Montessori school (864-239-0607). The family will be holding a private service.