SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 22, 2012

Former Speaker McGee dies

Matt Murphy
Statehouse News Service

SWAMPSCOTT — Former Speaker Thomas W. McGee, who had been ailing, passed away Friday afternoon at the age of 88, according to a local funeral director.

McGee, a Democrat from Lynn, served in the House of Representatives for 28 years, ascending to the speakership in 1975 and holding on to the top position in the House for a decade. 

McGee passed away Friday afternoon, according to Brian Field, a funeral director at Solimine, Landergan and Richardson funeral homes in Lynn. McGee had been living in Swampscott with his wife, Grace.

Field said the family plans to hold a private service and private burial for the late speaker, followed by a public memorial service in early January. The family will announced a time and place for the public service after the holidays on Jan. 2, Field said.

McGee served on the Lynn City Council from 1956 until 1963 when he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. After becoming majority leader under Speaker David Bartley, McGee took over the top post in the House in 1975 when Bartley resigned to become president of Holyoke Community College.

McGee held the speakership of the House through 1984 when he lost the position to his one-time top lieutenant in an internal leadership battle with the late Rep. George Keverian. Despite losing the support of the House as speaker, McGee remained on in the body as a representative until 1991.

His son, Sen. Thomas M. McGee, followed in his father's footsteps, serving four terms in the House of Representatives before being elected to the state Senate from Lynn in 2002. He is currently the Senate co-chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation.

Sen. Thomas Kennedy, a Brockton Democrat who served in the House with McGee during his final years as a representative, remembered McGee on Friday as a "close friend who served the people of the Commonwealth and his district well." Kennedy said he and McGee grew close despite his voting against him for speaker, and he remembered him being a particularly strong advocate for people with addictions.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo issued a statement Friday night mourning the passing of the former speaker.

"Speaker McGee served the City of Lynn and Commonwealth of Massachusetts with distinction for many years. I extend my condolences to Senator McGee and his entire family," DeLeo said.