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Sussex civic leader, car dealer Megee dies at 67

Katie Tabeling
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Terry Megee | PHOTO COURTESY OF BEEBE HEALTHCARE

GEORGETOWN — Terry Megee, a second-generation car dealership owner and guiding hand behind several community causes in Sussex County, died on July 27. He was 67.

A Milford native who worked in the family dealership his whole life, Megee was renowned in the Georgetown area as a man who had a smile and helping hand for anyone who crossed his path. He was involved in various causes such as Georgetown’s Little League, Delaware Technical Community College, the Delaware Auto Dealers Truck Association and other boards. He had served as chairman of Beebe Healthcare Medical Board since 2021.

But even if he no longer was technically on the leadership board, Megee would not hesitate to offer assistance when needed, Boys and Girls Club of Georgetown Executive Director Renee Hickman said.

“He could be on vacation, and he would call me to check if I needed something, or he’d answer calls,” Hickman said. “Most people don’t do that. It wasn’t about getting another check off his list, or something he needed to be seen doing. Terry’s heart was so committed to helping his community. I was blessed and honored to have known him.”

Megee died of a heart attack while driving, according to various news reports. Visitation was held on Wednesday at Sussex Central High School, where hundreds of friends, family and community members gathered to say goodbye.

Megee was well-known for continuing on the family business: Floyd A. Megee Motors in Georgetown. Started by his father Floyd Megee in 1948 by selling new Studebakers, Terry Megee worked in the dealership at a young age in the parts department before he worked his way up. In 1992, he and his wife Vanessa bought the business. 

As the years passed, Megee expanded the stock to include Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge and Ram and the dealership was known to sell cars to three or four generations of families on the Delmarva peninsula. As a shrewd businessman, he grew it and ran it alongside his wife and his children.

I.G. Burton Auto Dealership owner Charlie Burton said that Megee was admired among the dealership community. Megee was active in the Delaware Automobile and Truck Dealers Association (DATDA), which represents 54 dealerships in the state, where he served as a current board member and previous president.

“Terry was a true gentleman, a fair competitor and gave generously to support many programs in the community. He was an all-around good guy,” Burton said.

Megee was also honored as a 2009 Delaware Time Magazine Quality Award Nominee. The award is bestowed on dealers that exemplify the industry in their commitment to their customers, employees, and their communities.  

“Terry’s passing leaves a tremendous void not just on a professional level, but a personal level as well. Terry was also a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. Our members feel privileged to have known Terry, and he will be truly missed by all of us,” DATDA Executive Marlene Petrylak said in a statement.

Megee was also a significant supporter behind Delaware Technical Community College. In particular, he was a driving force behind launching the Automotive Center for Excellence in Georgetown. Opened in 2021 as a state-of-the art automotive training and education center, it houses the first diesel mechanic training program in the region.

“As the president of DATDA, Terry served as a strong advocate for the new building and program expansion and helped the college with raising funds from dealerships across the state to help meet the required match for our federal grant,” Del Tech Vice President and Georgetown Campus Director Bobbi Barends said. “In addition to being an advocate, he and his wife Vanessa led by example and provided the first dealership donation to support this project.”

Megee graduated from Sussex Central High School in 1974, alongside his lifelong friend Rep. Ruth Briggs King. The two knew each other from daycare days and were recently planning the high school’s 50th reunion. As class president, he led the charge to find a place for the students to gather. Today, that is Possum Point Players.

“Terry was always a cup half-full guy, and he was always avidly involved,” Briggs King said. “I think he got that from his father and how engaged he was in the community, and just how he chose to look at situations. And when we got older, that turned into offering a job for someone who needed help paying the bills or just reaching out. It was just generally known in the community to just go to Terry if you needed help.”

Megee’s drive to help out any way he could was reflected in other community engagements. He served on the Georgetown-Millsboro Rotary for years, working at community events as well as chairing them. As an avid outdoorsman, he was known for fishing and hunting in southern Delaware, inviting rotary members along on excursions and hosting events at his cabin on Route 404.

He also served on the board of what is now Fulton Bank, where he made a point to speak to any employee he came across on his way to meetings, according to Linda Price, a retired vice president of Fulton Bank.

“He’d always make jokes and talk to the tellers, when some of our board members didn’t give them the time of day. That matters,” said Price, who now serves as the executive director of the Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce.

But according to many people, his greatest passion was children, be it his own, his grandchildren or ones in the community. Megee helped start the T-Ball program on the Georgetown Little League Big League Team and coached on all levels. He was also known to work the concession stand when they needed another man behind the register.

He also served on the board of Boys and Girls Club of Georgetown for years and served as president. But Hickman noted that his giving nature was not limited to funding, it also came out in sweat equity.

“He’d be laying tiles and painting walls when we moved into a new building. The biggest thing you need to know about him is that he showed up, and he gave when needed, and he gave genuinely,” she said. “He was my mentor and almost like a second father to me.”

His greatest wish was to expand the Boys and Girls Club of Georgetown to middle school-aged children with a larger facility. While Megee did not live to see that dream realized, Hickman did confirm the nonprofit is in the early stages of relocation.

“Terry will be the reason why it will exist,” she said. “If we could look at the world through Terry’s eyes, it would be a better place.”

Since 2014, Megee had served on the Beebe board and was named chairman at the time the health care organization was undergoing transformation under its new CEO David Tam. Beebe had completed its strategic plan during his tenure as chair. He was also instrumental with his wife and the Meoli family in the “I Believe in Beebe” Campaign that raised more than $46 million to expand the hospital’s Lewes campus and the South Coastal and Rehoboth campuses.

“I will miss Terry’s kindness, compassion, and leadership at Beebe Healthcare,” Tam said. “He was my friend, supporter, and mentor. I will miss him terribly, and Rebecca and I will keep Vanessa and the Megee family in our prayers.”

Above all, Megee was a devoted family man, with his children spending weekends and vacations with him alongside working at the dealership together. He was a lifelong friend and always had a handshake, warm smile and a keen memory for the person whose hand he was holding.

“People would say that Terry never forgot a face or a name, and it’s true. He never had a bad word to say about anyone,” Briggs King said. “I’m sure more stories of what he’s done for the community will come out to his family as time goes on. He just did so much, and wasn’t about making it known.”

Megee was buried in a private ceremony on Aug. 2 at  Woodlawn Memorial Park in Georgetown. He is survived by his wife, Vanessa, his daughter and son and three granddaughters.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a statement on behalf of Del Tech.

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