just janeBy MEGAN PHILLIPS,
FIRST LADY OF RIDGELAND ENJOYS ACTIVE LIFE IN COMMUNITY, CHURCH AND FAMILY
“I’m just me. I’m just Jane,” she said.
Jane McGee, wife of 29-year Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee, says she “believes in fun.” She’s involved in multiple groups throughout the city of Ridgeland, even more so since she retired three years ago, and makes sure to spend as much time as she can with family and friends as well.
After growing up in Collins and graduating from Collins High School, Jane attended Mississippi College, where she was graduated in three years in 1970 with a degree in business education.
Afterward, Jane moved to Jackson and immediately began working at Protective Service Life Insurance. After a few years, she moved to Cain Lithographers, where she retired after 40 years.
“I met Gene while I was working in Jackson,” she said. “... we just hit it off, had the same interests.”
Jane said their interests were so similar because they both work to put God above all else.
“Life is so simple if you think about it. If you put God first, and then your family, then everything else just falls in line. It’s been a fun, interesting ride.”
Jane never thought she’d marry a “statesman” (the term Gene prefers to politician). Shortly after getting married, the couple moved to Ridgeland and saw its potential.
He got involved with the Chamber of Commerce, became an alderman, and then was elected mayor in 1989.
That’s when Jane began getting involved in different groups and organizations throughout the city.
“When we got married, we bought a home — our first home was in Ridgeland, a little house on Walnut Ridge.”
Jane has been and still is involved in organizations across the city and Madison County, including the Madison County Republican Party, Madison County Republican Women, Wendover-Shadowood Ladies Group and America’s Outstanding Young Women.
She’s also part of the ladies group and choir at Colonial Heights Baptist Church, a substitute teacher at Ann Smith Elementary School and president of the Ridgeland City Garden Club.
In addition, she attends homecomings, vocal programs, drama and culinary events, open houses, Ridgeland ribbon cuttings, sporting events, and city activities such as parades, Chamber events, tournaments and charity events.
“I stay busy. It’s been amazing,” she said.
Now that she’s retired, Jane has even more time to dedicate to organizations.
“We were doing Junior Miss for years and years before it was America’s Outstanding Young Woman. Even this year, I have helped with interviews for contestants. That is something I enjoy. I believe in it, because it isn’t about beauty. It is about being the whole person, being intelligent. It was all the right reasons.”
Jane and her husband have been members of Colonial Heights Baptist Church for 41 years.
But, when the couple first moved to Ridgeland, they attended First Baptist Church, Ridgeland.
“I was actually organist for First Baptist Church Ridgeland… I was organist at my home church. I started being organist there when I was 13, I think… I played pretty well back then,” she humbly said. “I still enjoy playing.”
Jane is currently the treasurer of the Madison County Republican Party and past president of the group.
For the Wendover-Shadowood Ladies Group, she joins her neighbors to discuss what’s happening in their community and in the city.
“We’re trying to get more people who move in to join the group, to be aware of what’s going on in the city,” Jane said.
Jane is also the current president of the Ridgeland City Garden Club. Finishing up her first year in the two-year rotation, she’s already shaken things up. “I’ve been a member, but because I was working, I couldn’t be active. But since I retired, I was going to the garden club on a regular basis, and so they recruited me to be president. We’ve had a really good year and great programs. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Jane is also able to substitute teach at Ann Smith Elementary School.
“Last Friday, I substituted music, and I did that the last time I went, because I play the piano, and I relate to children. I used to do children’s choir a lot at (Colonial Heights).”
Jane said she’s always happy to take half a day out of her schedule and fill in wherever she’s needed.
She also loves spending time with her friends.
As the mayor’s wife, Jane attends many events with Gene, such as Ridgeland Titan football games and open houses. But being involved in the city of Ridgeland is something she enjoys as Jane McGee.
“We just love the city and the people. We have an interest to really make Ridgeland the best city it can be… It’s amazing, but once you retire, you could box yourself in and not be involved in anything really. You just do your little detail and forget the world. But it’s much better to get out there and associate with your friends and neighbors. I’m pretty down to earth, and I like fun things. I love people, enjoy being with them and visiting with them. So, that part’s been easy for me.”
Jane and Gene have two children, a daughter, Karie Bailey, who lives in Mobile with her husband and three children, and Wint, who resides in Ridgeland with his wife and four sons.