Mac Papers Legend Dies at 78

 

Jacksonville Florida’s Mac Papers suffered a great loss on August 5, 2002 when Thomas Rive McGehee passed away at age 78. Known as a direct and savvy businessman, Mr. McGehee was well known throughout the Jacksonville area through his paper company, Mac Papers, and the non-profit organizations he founded, Dreams Come True and the Jacksonville Community Foundation.

 

Thomas McGehee and his wife, Delia, founded Dreams Come True, an organization that grants wishes to terminally ill children in Florida’s First Coast and surrounding areas, without the aid of any subsidies from state or federal agencies. 100% of all donations collected are donated directly to the child’s dream. In 1984, a 17 year old Cystic Fibrosis patient, George Lee, captured the heart of the McGehees when they learned of his dream to play in the TPC Pro-Am. They arranged for him to be paired with Fred Couples, and the dream came to life. Less than one year later, George died and was buried with the driver given to him by Couples after their game.  To date, Dreams Come True has fulfilled the dreams of over 1,275 children with life-threatening illnesses.

 

“Tom was a hero to everyone…a true man of principals,” said Laine Silverfield, Executive Director of Dreams Come True“. He really exemplified giving back.” On September 3, 2002, a new Dreams Come True facility located at 6803 Southpoint Parkway in Jacksonville will be dedicated to Thomas McGeehee’s memory. “He really moved mountains,” said Ms. Silverfield. “With Tom, nothing was impossible.”

 

The Jacksonville Community Foundation was formed as a vehicle to support and promote Dreams Come True and the McGehees’ other philanthropic efforts. Focused mainly on arts and humanity related projects and programs, the Foundation has created a dream that will live on for many years to come.

 

Thomas McGehee, a Jacksonville native, was a World War II Army veteran, having served as a corporal in the 8th Armored Division. After leaving the Army in 1946, Mr. McGehee attended Jacksonville University and the University of Alabama, where he received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. After graduation his father, Clifford Graham McGehee, sent Thomas to Elizabeth, LA to learn how to operate a paper manufacturing and converting plant. C.G. McGehee handed down his company, Jacksonville Paper Company, to Thomas in 1956. Thomas remained president until the company sold nearly a decade later.

 

In 1965, Thomas McGehee and his brother, Frank, formed a new company, aptly named Mac Papers. The company was targeted at serving the printing and graphics industry. Through the years, Mac Papers has become recognized as the Southeast’s largest and finest distributor of printing paper and supplies, shipping more than 100,000 tons of paper annually.

 

Thomas McGehee had retired from his role Mac Papers, but remained an integral part of the company. “He said he wanted to step down from the organization to give the second generation a shot,” said Thomas McGehee, Jr. “But there was never a major decision made that wasn’t run by him first.” Mac Papers is currently operated by Thomas McGehee, Jr., Vice President & Secretary; and Frank McGehee’s sons, Sutton McGehee, President; and David McGehee, Executive Vice President.

 

According to Thomas “Mac” McGehee, Jr., his father wasn’t the easiest person in the world to work for, but certainly one that everyone trusted and respected. “He was pretty tough and had a direct persona,” recalls Mac. “But even when he was being honest, and he could be brutally honest, you had to respect his opinion. When you really listened to what he had to say, you could see his point and where he was coming from.”

 

Along with his work at Mac Papers, Dreams Come True and the Jacksonville Community Foundation, Thomas McGehee was a well known face in civic circles. Mr. McGehee served as president of United Way in 1964, he was a member of the Board of Directors of Barnett Bank of Jacksonville from 1961-1992, and served on the board of Jacksonville University from 1959 until the late 1990s, including a term as chairman in 1992. Trying to capture the essence of larger than life businessman and philanthropist Thomas Rive McGehee is no small task. Thomas McGehee, Jr. says it best. “It’s a classic story of a man who loved his wife, his country – he went to war for it – his family, and the Lord.”

 

In addition to his wife, Mr. McGehee is survived by two children, Delia Houser McGehee and Thomas R. McGehee, Jr. of Jacksonville, and four grandchildren.