Eugene McGehee, former state legislator and judge, dies

Eugene W. McGehee, a former district judge, state representative and decorated soldier from Baton Rouge, died Friday morning surrounded by family members inside his home.

He was 85.

Raised from humble beginnings, McGehee was a self-made man who entered law school at 18 and practiced law for several decades, including while serving as a state representative of Baton Rouge from 1960-72. Afterward, he served as a 19th Judicial District Court Judge until his retirement in 1978, said his daughter, Laurelle Cliburn.

“He loved his church, his family and his friends,” Cliburn said. “He could relate and talk to people from all walks of life.”

Armed with “a dry wit and an incredible sense of humor,” McGehee entered the Louisiana National Guard in 1948 as a private, Cliburn said, and retired more than 30 years later as a colonel.

In 2001, LSU’s Cadets of the Ole War Skule inducted McGehee into its Hall of Honor. He also received several other military service honors, including the Louisiana Distinguished Service Medal and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Cliburn said.

“Everything he did, he did it just right,” said Zeke Dunaway, one of McGehee’s longtime friends.

Dunaway described his friend as a as a brilliant, caring man who also was “a darn good lawyer.”

Among McGehee’s hobbies were hunting, fishing, spending time with his family and learning more about his Scottish heritage.

Once, Dunaway even caught his friend wearing a traditional Scottish kilt.

McGehee gave generously of his time and money, and in retirement he took many of his children and grandchildren on exotic vacations to places ranging from Alaska to Austria.

“He was a good man,” Dunaway said.

Visitation will be held Sunday afternoon from 4 to 7 p.m. at Blackwater United Methodist Church in Baker. Visitation will resume at the church Monday morning at 9 a.m. until a religious service in his memory begins at 11 a.m.