Neil Bowen McGahee, age 73, passed away Friday, December 30 at Atrium Health-Navicent in Macon due to complications from pneumonia and congestive heart failure.
Neil was born in Thomaston, Georgia to the late Orine “Tippie” Bowen McGahee Windham and Emory Spears McGahee.
Neil never met a stranger and kept in touch with friends from is early years of attending R. E. Lee in Thomaston. He first developed an interest in photography while attending Georgia Southwestern College. A 1971 History/Political Science graduate, he was named 2019 Outstanding GSW Alumni. He also attended Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY and earned a Master of art/Mass Communication/Visual from Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia.
Neil began his newspaper photography career in the 1970’s at The Bradenton Herald where he met his wife of 42 years. He had worked for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, The Tampa Tribune and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He was one of the early photographers to use only a Leica camera. In later years he transitioned to writing and editing for Georgia school publications at Reinhardt College, Kennesaw State University and Georgia Institute of Technology.
Over his forty-year career span, Neil reported on war, poverty, refugees, and famine, in Africa, Central America, the Middle East and Haiti. McGahee wrote and photographed subjects such as homelessness, poverty, disabilities, AIDS, aging, and racial issue capturing ordinary everyday lives of people using black and white images to people and situations.
He received The Oskar Barnack Prize awarded by Leica Press Photo, considered to be the most prestigious award in journalism, The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Nikon World Award and was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; runner-up in 1978.
After retiring twice, Neil continued to photograph and report news locally for the Cartersville Daily Tribune and the Cordele Dispatch. During his leisure time, Neil enjoyed spending time in the outdoors hunting game, or fly-fishing as many rivers and streams as he could. “Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
Neil McGahee is survived by his wife, Sharon McGahee of Pinehurst, Georgia and his son, Zachary McGahee of Cartersville, Georgia.
The family will have a memorial service at 11am Wednesday, January 4th at Christ Episcopal Church in Cordele, Georgia.
In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the Christ Episcopal Church Memorial Fund, PO Box 264, Cordele, GA 31010.
Brannen-Nesmith Funeral Home of Vienna has charge of arrangements.