A late afternoon memorial was held at the Venice Beach breakwater near Windward Avenue Sunday, April 23rd, to honor Cecil McGee, a longtime Los Angeles resident and well-known personality on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
McGee, who for years sold items such as incense, oils and handmade jewelry on Ocean Front Walk in Venice, died Saturday, April 15th, due to complications from an aneurysm, friends and family said. He was 43.
A funeral service was held Saturday, April 22nd, at the Crenshaw United Methodist Church, Los Angeles.
Friends said more than 100 people gathered at the Venice Beach breakwater memorial service, where they laid pictures, burned candles and incense and tossed flowers into the sea to honor McGee.
“I thought it was one of the most beautiful things that I’ve ever been to,” McGee’s fiancÈe Nicola Turville said of the memorial on the beach. “Cecil was a very spiritual man and (the memorial) was so ‘him’.”
Turville said McGee, who was a “people person,” was very popular and well liked by many on the Boardwalk.
“Everyone loved him,” his fiancÈe said. “It was like walking with the mayor on the Boardwalk.”
With his stand on the Boardwalk, McGee was able to display his unique talents of designing and making pieces of jewelry, exotic handmade incense, burning oils and aromatic fragrances.
Mike Peters, a friend of McGee’s, said the stand where McGee sold his items on the Boardwalk was not just a place to buy incense, but a place to socialize.
“It was a positive place to hang out,” said Peters, who has known McGee for nine years. “He was an extremely positive person and he affected so many people’s lives.”
McGee was someone who “loved people” and was dedicated to helping others affected by alcoholism and drug addiction, Turville said.
He was an extremely active person with many interests, including cycling, tennis, swimming, photography, camping and spending time with friends and family.
McGee also had a passion for clothes and was known for being “styled out,” Turville said.
McGee was the first of three children born to Pattye Nealy and Charles Royce McGee, on January 1st, 1963, and had the title of the first-born baby of the year in Teague, Texas.
His family later moved to Portland, Oregon, where they resided until November 1967. While in Portland, McGee served as an acolyte, usher, choir member and youth worship leader for the Memorial United Methodist Church.
From 1967 until his death, McGee lived in the Los Angeles and Venice area.
He attended elementary and middle school in Los Angeles, and after graduating from Los Angeles High School in 1980, he attended California State University at Northridge.
McGee had worked various jobs as a graphic artist, sales representative, operations manager and loss prevention officer.
But his desire for independence and his love of the outdoors led him to Venice Beach, where he was able to impact the lives of many different people while achieving his lifelong dream of entrepreneurship, friends said.
“He will be missed for sure by everyone,” said Tanya Scott, of The Sidewalk Cafe in Venice Beach. “He’s been a presence on the Boardwalk for such a long time.”
McGee is survived by his mother, Pattye; father, Charles; sister, Cecilia McGee of Stone Mountain, Georgia; brother, Patrick of Decatur, Georgia; his nieces, Nealy and Juanita; his eldest cousin, Jackie; numerous aunts, uncles and cousins; his fiancÈe; and many friends.