Raised attending Shiloh Advent Christian Church in Union County, North Carolina, Rachel was baptised on 22 July 1945. She remained a member of the denomination and found a congregation where the family was living as often as possible, including in Tampa, Florida, and San Bernadino, California. When she was unable to find her denomination, she would attend Baptist churches.
Rachel attended Unionville High School, Unionville, Union County, North Carolina, where she was a member of National Beta Club. The class made a senior trip to Washington DC and Rachel told of being sick with bad tonsils for much of the trip. She graduated 23 May 1952 and left home shortly thereafter. She lived for a time in Charlotte and then moved to Florida where she was receiving mail at General Delivery Station F, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida on 31 March 1954.
In the spring of 1954, her brother Jackson was a member of the Student Squadron at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colorado. One of the other members of the class, Charles McGee, asked in the barracks if anyone had a sister he could write to. Jackson had a picture of three of his sisters. Charles liked the looks of Rachel and began writing to her. Their correspondence culminated in marriage when Rachel accompanied her parents on a trip to Colorado to meet their first grandchild, son of Jackson and Merle Collins Helms born in early August. The family arrived approximately 29 August, 1954. On September 3, Charles and Rachel were married in a ceremony performed by Daniel L Newman, Chaplain USAF. She never again returned to the family home in Union County, North Carolina, for more than short visits.
Over the next 20 years, the couple had three children, a baby boy (1957), Deborah A (McGee Cundiff) Hoag (1958), and Margaret C (McGee) Dimsdale. They stayed in the Air Force and lived all over the world. In 1973, Charles was assigned to Homestead Air Force Base in Homestead, Dade County, Florida, to serve the last year of his final term. Not wanting his family in the Miami area, he settled Rachel and the girls in a rental house next to Peggie, his mother.
The one sport that Rachel loved was basketball. She once told her daughter, Debi, that she was such huge fan because it was the only sporting event she could attended during high school. She had fond memories of basketball games because it was a time when she was allowed to leave the farm and enjoy some time with her friends. When the NBA franchised a team about 30 miles from her home near Orlando, Florida, Rachel immediately became an enthusiastic fan. If the Orlando Magic was playing, you could find her in front of the TV or at the stadium.
Following her cancer diagnosis in late 1995, the family pooled funds and bought four aftermarket season passes. Someone made sure she was at every game she felt able to attend. Arrangements were made for her to meet one of the players and she was thrilled to spend a little time and have her picture taken with Nick Anderson.
Rachel died February 17, 1996 at 1320 Braebury Drive, Leesburg, Lake County, Florida, and is buried in Lone Oak Cemetery, Leesburg, Lake County, Florida. Beyers Funeral Home of Leesburg handled the arrangements and Rachel's brother, Rev. Thomas Helms, officiated.
Note: All sources for Rachel are in the Special Collection of Deborah McGee Cundiff Hoag, Leesburg, Florida 34788. Documents will be digitized and placed online when privacy statutes have expired.
Laura Rachel Helms, North Carolina Birth Certificate
Charles McGee and Rachel Laura Helms, Colorado Marriage License.
Baby Boy McGee, California Certificate of Fetal Death.
Deborah McGee, Florida Certificate of Live Birth.
Margaret McGee, Florida Certificate of Live Birth.
Rachel Helms McGee, Florida Death Certificate.
Baptismal Certificate dated 22 July 1945 found inside High School Diploma cover
Bible School Certificate dated 8 July 1949
Reading Circle Certificate for 1945, 1948 and 1949.
Beta Club Certificate
Social Security Act Application for Account Number. Filed 24 November 1950 (Given names did not change until September 1954)
Social Security Card
High School Diploma dated 23 May 1952
Letter from Rachel to her mother dated March 31, 1954
Letters from Rachel to Charles and Charles to Rachel from 5 March 1954 through 25 August 1954
Letter to Mom and all dated October 14, 1954
Hospital Invoice/Receipts - baby boy
Story of Our Baby - Deborah McGee
Vacation Bible School Certificate from Central Baptist Church, Urasoe City, Okinawa, Japan dated 11 August 1972
Observer-Journal (Union County, North Carolina). Obituary of Rachel Helms McGee. 20 Feb 1996
Letter to friends from Charles, Deborah & Margaret telling of Rachel's death dated February 25, 1996
Headstone Picture, Block L, Lone Oak Cemetery, Leesburg, Lake County, Florida
Memorial Book, Rachel McGee
Recollection of Deborah Hoag - 7 December 1995 was the diagnosis date of Rachel's Glioblastoma Multiforme (brain tumor). I remember the date because as Momma came out of the anesthesia the nurses were asking her questions to determine how alert she was. They asked her what the date was and she replied that it was Pearl Harbor Day. The nurse had to find out if that was correct.
↑ Her #1932 Birth Certificate states that her father was 25 and her mother 26. Both were born in Union County, North Carolina. Laura C Baucom signed the birth certificate as the attendant. Laura Rachel was crossed out on her birth certificate and Rachel Laura written in. She always said that the name change was done because the Air Force always uses first names and she had always been called Rachel. Her grandmother was called Laura. According to WikiPedia, a veil or caul at birth were said to bring good fortune to the child.
↑ The #SS-5 filled out in 1950 lists her names in the original order and provides her parents' names.
↑ Their #1954 Marriage License states that neither had been married previously. The marriage was witnessed Merle Helms, Rachel's sister-in-law, and Jimmie Black, an Air Force buddy of Charles.
↑ The first child, and the couple's only boy, died during labor and was delivered stillborn. The cord was wrapped three times around his neck. The #1957 Certificate of Fetal Death was found in Rachel's papers after her death.
↑ Deborah's #1958 Birth Certificate indicates that Charles, who had not reenlisted following the death of the baby boy, had already re-entered the Air Force when she was born.
↑ Margaret's #1960 Birth Certificate has the family living in Tampa, Florida. Charles was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base.
↑ See Charles' profile for details of his military service.
↑ Personal knowledge of Debi Hoag, daughter, conversations with and observation of Rachel McGee, 1988-1996.
↑ 12.012.1 Personal knowledge of Debi Hoag, daughter, who helped make the arrangements.
↑ Her #Death Certificate lists her date and place of birth, her parents' names, her husband's name, and her burial location.
The relationships to father Martin Helms and daughter Debi McGee Hoag are suggested by a 74.2 cM autosomal DNA match between Debi McGee Hoag GEDmatch G293623 and her maternal third cousin once removed Julia (Bell) Lansberry GEDmatch M071333; another cousin match is needed for triangulation.
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Rachel by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA.
Mitochondrial DNA test-takers in the direct maternal line: