All Charles McGee, 82, ever wanted to do was run his business and love his family, said his daughters. McGee, who everyone called Chuck, died June 23 in Oak Park from Alzheimer’s disease.
In the early 1970s, McGee, along with his wife Georgia, opened Chuck’s Certified Foods at 5722 W. Madison St. The couple owned operated the retail grocery store for at least two decades, their daughters said. McGee also owned and operated two barbecue restaurants — Rib Bazaar, located at 5719 W. Madison, and Chuck’s BBQ, located at 174 North Cicero Avenue.
The first year of operating the business was hard, McGee once told a local publication for a short profile piece, but “patience and persistence paid off” and the store grew into a flourishing family-owned operation. McGee’s brother, father, wife and children all worked at the store at some point.
Born and raised in Yazoo City, Mississippi, McGee moved to Chicago, along with his parents and six younger siblings, when he was seven years old. He had graduated high school and enrolled in Herzl Junior College with ambitions to become a teacher, but a two-year tour of duty the army would change the course of his life.
While in the service, McGee earned two honorary medals for marksmanship and good conduct — and he found his calling. Shortly after leaving the army, he opened Chuck’s in order to make a living. Over the course of his career, McGee would develop a healthy reputation for his family’s signature barbecue sauce.
McGee is survived by his three children: Brian, Deirdra and Angela. They said the longtime businessman was “a dedicated husband, father, grandfather and brother” who enjoyed “traveling, camping” and, of course, barbecuing.
A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday, June 30 at Rock of Ages Baptist Church in Maywood, Illinois. The visitation is at 10:30 a.m. and the funeral will be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association in McGee’s honor.
A previous version of this article incorrectly noted the name of McGee’s retail grocery store. This article has since been updated. Austin Weekly News regrets the error.