End of an era

Published 7:50 pm Friday, February 3, 2012

Chief Houston Lee McGhee took over as chief of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in 1970 following his father Chief Calvin McGhee's death.

One of the last true links to a long-time legacy of tradition came to an end for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tuesday night when the tribe’s last living blood chief died at his home at the age of 74.

Chief Houston Lee McGhee was born on March 17, 1937, on what is today the PCI reservation. McGhee assumed the title of PCI Chief following his father Calvin’s death in 1970.

McGhee stepped down from his position as chief in 1977, and his departure from the post marked the last blood chief for PCI.

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“When he got really sick and down in his health, they started voting in a tribal chairman to head up the tribal board,” McGhee’s granddaughter Valisa Hadley said.

Following his resignation, McGhee continued to work to aid PCI in their efforts to become federally recognized, a goal that was finally attained in 1984.

McGhee returned to service for PCI in an official capacity in 1988 as an employee of the PCI Tribal Council, a position he held until his retirement in 2004.

Governmental Relations Advisor and Tribal Council Treasurer Robert McGhee said the late chief’s contributions to his people were invaluable.

“It is with the combined efforts of the leadership who came before us that we are now known as the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, a strong and well respected nation,” he said. “He will always remembered as a man and leader that loved his family, friends, this community and tribe and has always been proud of the success we experience today and to call himself Poarch Creek.”

McGhee’s wife of 51 years, Margie, said her husband’s legacy is simple.

“He was for the people,” she said.

PCI has Chief McGhee’s oral history on file for anyone who would like to learn more about his time as chief and the legacy he leaves his tribe.

Services for McGhee will be held at 2 p.m. today at Atmore Memorial Chapel. Burial will follow in New Home Cemetery at Poarch.