J. Duane Magee ’51: A coach who lived with enthusiasm

Duane Magee '51 | photo courtesy of SPU Photo ArchivesFORMER SPU ALUMNI director J. DUANE MAGEE ’51, MEd ’62 died April 24, 2021, at the age of 91. Born in Orting, Washington, Magee was a physical education major at Seattle Pacific College, receiving the SPC Athletic Inspirational Award in 1951. After graduating, he served in the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Georgia.

After returning to SPC for a master’s degree in education, Magee became a teacher, guidance counselor, and basketball coach at Foster High School in South Seattle and at R.A. Long High School in Longview, Washington. During the summer, he worked for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, served as camp director at Mt. Adams Leadership Camp, and was a regular member of the coaching collegium for Bob Houbreg’s Basketball Camp at Camp Casey.

In 1979, Magee retired from public education. Six years later, he returned to SPU as the University’s alumni director, successfully eliciting donations for significant University projects including the addition of the Bach Theatre to the McKinley Auditorium. Magee later became a family crisis counselor with Catholic Community Services.

Although Magee wore many hats during his working life, everyone knew him as “Coach.” His life mottoes included, “Whatever you do, do it with enthusiasm” and “Capture the moment!” He was also an avid outdoorsman — mountain climbing, camping, boating, and fishing.

Magee is survived by his wife, Gail; daughters HOLLY MAGEE ISCHE ’77 and DIANE MAGEE HENNINGSGAARD ’75; and son JAY MAGEE ’84; two step-daughters; two brothers, including ROBERT MAGEE ’58; seven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and thousands of former colleagues, counselees, and athletes — all of whom Magee considered his “kids.”

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