RALPH W MCGEHEE JR
April 9, 1928 – May 2, 2020
We mourn the loss of our dear father, Ralph Walter McGehee, Jr., on May 2, at the Falmouth by the Sea nursing home in Falmouth, Maine. He was 92.
Diagnosed with Covid-19 a week ago, our father could not receive visitors, but family could stand outside his window with signs and occasional shouts of love and encouragement. Dad responded with good cheer, jokes, and a few days ago even joined in singing the Notre Dame fight song. We are grateful for the extraordinary care and attention of the Falmouth by the Sea nursing home staff over the past 8 years, and particularly during his final days. They have been selfless, courageous, and compassionate during this coronavirus crisis.
Our Dad arrived in Maine in 2012 following the death of our beloved mother, Norma, to whom he was a devoted and loving husband for 60 years. Falmouth was the last stop in a lifetime journey around the globe from Chicago to Notre Dame, to Washington D.C., Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Virginia and Florida. From his boyhood in south-side Chicago, he went on to become a starting tackle on three national champion Notre Dame football teams. He is, we believe, the last surviving player from the 1946-1949 teams, often called the “greatest college team ever”.
From 1952 to 1978, he served our country as an intelligence officer in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). While in Thailand he implemented an innovative educational and humanitarian program with the Thai government to retain the allegiance of upcountry residents. He worked to implement the same outreach program in South Vietnam while endeavoring to call attention in his intelligence reporting to the unexpectedly strong allegiance he encountered among the South Vietnamese to the Vietcong. Upon his retirement from the CIA in 1977 he was awarded the Agency’s Career Intelligence Medal. His continuing concerns about the importance of accurate and unbiased intelligence to national security compelled him to write a book - without revealing classified information - challenging the Agency’s reporting. The CIA attempted to ban the book, but with the help of the ACLU our father successfully defended his right to publicize his concerns. His book, Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA, was published in 1983. For two decades following his retirement, he authored opinion articles in national publications and was a worldwide speaker and scholar on the need for reform of CIA intelligence operations. He developed CIABASE, a computer database of CIA matters compiled from all available public information, which became a key resource for researchers of US foreign policy and CIA operations.
Our dad is a hero to us. He maintained integrity in service to his country in the face of strong institutional opposition. His example has inspired his family to seek to live by the same principles of service and integrity. We celebrate his rich legacy with great pride.
Our father is survived by we four children: Peggy McGehee Horton (married to Andrew Marcus Horton), Jean Marteski (partner to Harold Cockerill), Scott McGehee (married to Lisa Carle), and Keenan Dakota. He also leaves behind ten grandchildren: Rachel Horton White, (married to Christopher White); Joanna Horton McPherson (married to Thomas McPherson); Laura Horton Bergesen (married to Kevin Bergesen); Capt. John McGehee Horton, USMC (married to Shelby Aseltine); Jeffrey Marteski (married to Aritra Marteski); Stephen Marteski; Madeleine McGehee; Michael McGehee (married to Charlotte Lude), Arlo Millich, and Rowan Dakota; and four great-grandchildren: Arran and Alice White; Amoryn McPherson, and Sloane Bergesen.
There will be a private service. Donations in Ralph’s name are welcomed to any Covid-19 caregivers’ fund.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
RALPH W MCGEHEE JR
May 19, 2020
I did not know Ralph McGehee so much as I knew of him, but he changed the course of my life. It was from leads on his CIABASE that I started to look into the possible role of biological warfare research in the origin of the AIDS epidemic, as it now may have played a role in the origins of covid-19 (see www.aidsbiowarfare.com).
I had exchanged a few emails with Mr. McGehee, years ago. At the time, before internet newsgroups became too polluted for respectable persons to bother with them, they had been a means to try to get messages to the public. Mr. McGehee posted to a CIA newsgroup and for this was harassed and ridiculed. I suspect that some of the trolls were state-sponsored, not just to silence people like Mr. McGehee, but to destroy newsgroups themselves as a source of uncontrolled information. I had tried to encourage him.
I knew that the theme of his life was "no good deed going unpunished". I doubt that he was "paranoid" in the least in his accounts of cars lunging at him, and that sort of thing. These sorts of testimonials from whistleblowers being stalked in cat-and-mouse games and worse are entirely too familiar, and part of the price that he paid.
May 5, 2020
We were privileged to get to know Ralph over the past twelve years. He was a true American Patriot and hero. He upheld the true meaning of being a citizen of this country. His courage and legacy is a wonderful gift to his family and all of us who knew him.
God bless you, Ralph.