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Former Teacher, Head of School McKee Dies at 83

Former Instructor in Physics and Acting Head of School Peter McKee passed away December 14 in Lebanon, New Hampshire following complications from a heart attack that he suffered earlier in the month. Mr. McKee spent 42 years at Phillips Academy after originally being hired in 1947 to teach Physics. Throughout his career at Andover, Mr. McKee taught Physics, Chemistry, Math, General Science, and Astronomy. He also held various administrative roles, including tho se of house counselor, Dean of Students, Dean of Faculty, Chair of the Science Department, and Associate Head of School. Instructor in Mathematics Andrew Cline said that as a teacher Mr. McKee, “was quite demanding but also caring and supportive….As Associate Head and as Science Division Chair, he made a point of letting people know when he thought they were doing a particularly good job.” Former Instructor in Chemistry Leslie Ballard said of Mr. McKee, “He was always very upbeat and positive. He was also very kind. He took responsibility for everything around him – chipping in and working at it – whether it was a student having problems with physics or bringing in new teachers to the Science Division.” Mr. McKee was born on November 24, 1923 in Bennington, Vermont. He graduated in 1941 from Holderness School and in 1947 earned his A.B. in physics from Middlebury College. He received a masters degree in science from Harvard University in 1954. During World War II, Mr. McKee flew 50 missions in the European theater while he served as a B-24 pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. While teaching at Andover from 1947 to 1989, Mr. McKee wrote several problem books, course outlines, and text materials in addition to editing dictionaries in chemistry and physics for high school students. Mr. McKee also served as Acting Head of School from January 1989 to August 1989 when Head of School Don McNemar went on sabbatical leave. Mr. McKee retired from teaching after his stint as Head of School ended. Instructor in English Paul Kalkstein said of Mr. McKee’s time as Head of School, “[He] did not believe much in bureaucracy, and during his brief reign the school ran with great efficiency….I think of it as a brief halcyon age.” Mr. McKee’s dedication to Phillips Academy extended from the classroom to the sports field. He coached JV football for many years, with President George W. Bush ’64 as one of his players. Mr. McKee also coached the Nordic Ski team and was popularly regarded as one of the most successful Nordic coaches in New England. In honor of Mr. McKee, Phillips Academy established the Peter Q. McKee Ski Cup, to be awarded annually to the member of the Andover Nordic ski team who contributes most to his or her team’s success. Mr. McKee was equally active in organizations outside of Andover. He served as Chairman of the Board of the Pike School and as Governor of the North Andover Country Club, in addition to his role as a trustee of the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Maine. After his retirement from Andover, Mr. McKee worked with several organizations in the Lake Sunapee area of New Hampshire, where he and his wife, Jean, have owned a home for over 50 years. He was a founding member of Adventures in Learning, an education group affiliated with Colby-Sawyer College, where he taught courses and served two terms as President of the group. Mr. McKee will be buried on the grounds of Phillips Academy in the chapel cemetery. According to Mr. Kalkstein, “Peter McKee was one of Andover’s all-time giants.”