David L. McKee, the fundraising executive who started the Country Cares for St. Jude radio program, passed away on Fri., Aug. 17. He was 66 years old and died following a car accident in Germantown, Tenn. near Memphis.
McKee joined ALSAC, St. Jude’s fundraising division, in 1977 and was most recently Chief Operating Officer and Senior Executive Vice President.
Country Cares launched in 1989 with help from Alabama’s Randy Owen and has since generated more than $400 million for St. Jude. In 2012, 800 people participated in the Country Cares Seminar including artists, label representatives, and radio execs.
“David McKee was so much more than one of the world’s great philanthropic leaders,” said Rick Shadyac, ALSAC CEO. “He was a dear friend and mentor to me and many others who worked with him during his 35-year career at ALSAC. He also was a passionate advocate for the patients of St. Jude and for children everywhere who have benefitted from our work. We have lost one of the icons of our organization, and his family is in our hearts and prayers.”
McKee was the recipient of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award by Fundraising Success magazine. He helped lead the organization to record growth and its current status as the second largest health care charity. He also served as interim CEO in 2008-2009. According to family and friends, he was a stalwart at ALSAC, taking on challenges with a smile and gentle determination.
Former Shelby County Mayor Bill Morris told the Memphis Commercial Appeal he had known McKee since the day he came to town. “David was a brilliant strategist in terms of managing ALSAC,” Morris said. “He had his entire heart put in the centerpiece of everything he did. He pulled people together. People wanted to work for him. I just know ALSAC will never have anyone more committed, or dedicated or more successful.”
“It wasn’t the fundraising that motivated him,” agreed former Memphis mayor Dick Hackett. “What motivated him most was who he was raising money for. He was the glue that held ALSAC together through the good and bad.”
McKee is survived by loving wife Portia McKee; children, David McKee of Collierville, April Fowler of Arlington, and Amanda Madison of Memphis; grandchildren, Charlie Madison, Emily Madison and Caroline McKee; brother, Daun McKee of Fleetwood, PA; and sister, Ellen Long of Christianburg, VA.
The family will receive friends from 5 – 8 p.m., Tues., Aug. 21 at Memorial Park Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held at 1:30 p.m., Wed., Aug. 22 at Hope Presbyterian Church with interment to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery. The family requests memorial donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Memorial Park Funeral Home can be reached at 901-767-8930. Condolences may be offered at www.MemorialParkOnline.com.