Deron L. McGee

Dr. Deron L. McGee, Ph.D., 50, passed away at his home in Lawrence, Kan., May 28, 2015, after a long battle with brain cancer.

Deron was exceptional in many ways, including his fight with cancer. His full life was blessed with work that he loved, and people he cherished.

He was born in Kimball, Neb., on April 18, 1965. He graduated from Kimball County High School in 1983.

Deron married Diane Ballard June 17, 1989, in Laramie, Wyo. They later divorced in 2014. Deron and Diane, wife and friend of 23 years, became parents to Thaddeus Martin McGee on Jan. 15, 2007.

McGee, a member of the University of Kansas-School of Music faculty since the fall of 1994, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wyoming-Laramie. He completed a Ph.D. in music theory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993, and for one year, was a member of the faculty at Alabama State University-Montgomery. In this instructional capacity he brought his love of music and passion for teaching to many students who continue to spread the importance of music through their own work.

In 1998, Dr. McGee, assistant professor of music theory and founder and director of the Kansas Center for Music Technology at the University of Kansas was named recipient of the 1998-99 Gretchen VanBloom Budig Professorship at KU. In an October, 1998 KU news release, Peter G. Thompson, dean of KU’s School of Fine Arts, said, “I couldn’t be more pleased that Deron has been chosen by his colleagues for this singular honor. He epitomizes the kind of excellence, achievement and commitment to learning that Gene and Gretchen Budig wished to recognize through their gift. We are most fortunate to have an outstanding faculty member like Deron in our classrooms.”

Technology played a central role in McGee’s teaching and research. At KU he taught core music theory classes, an undergraduate course in music technology and graduate seminars on analytical techniques, Schenkerian analysis, and computers in music and music research. He also was a mentor for young scholars, directing capstone projects for senior music theory majors, directing master’s theses and Ph.D. dissertations, directing doctor of musical arts documents and supervising technology projects for students completing a technology track as one of their research skills.

McGee’s project, the Kansas Center for Music Technology, promotes the applications of technology in music research, teaching and creative projects.

In addition, Dr. McGee was a reviewer for Oxford University Press and J.J. Wiley and Sons, served on the editorial review board of the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, and was the co-editor of Computers in Music Research. McGee has presented papers and been published throughout the world. In 1997, he co-authored a book, “Knowledge-Based Programming for Music Research” with his doctoral studies advisor, Dr. John Schaffer, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also worked on a book about teaching music theory based on research into the structure and functions of the brain.

Dr. McGee had to stop teaching in the spring of 2013, after teaching 20 years, through four brain surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Stopping teaching was very difficult, but it allowed him to spend time with his most cherished family member, his young son, Thaddeus, 8, or as most know him, “Tad.”

When Tad came into the lives of Deron and Diane, it was a blessing beyond understanding. Deron was Tad’s most fervent supporter, be it in soccer, baseball, or piano.

Deron was blessed with many faithful friends and a loving family. “The Village” was a source of joy, laughter, and support. He was appreciative of his colleagues and friends at KU who were supportive throughout his illness. In addition, he appreciated the great amount of love and support from Diane and her parents, Barry and Susan Ballard, and her sister, Jean Ballard Zlomke of Wyoming.

Survivors include son Thaddeus McGee, 8, of Topeka; parents, Barbara and Richard McGee of Mesa, Ariz.; sister, Richa McGee Perkins, of Columbus, Neb., husband Dave, and sons Robert and Brandon; brother Kevin McGee, of Corona, Calif., wife Sarah, and sons Ryan, Kyle, and Luke.

He was a member of Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence.

At Deron’s request, his body has been cremated with scattering of ashes, at a later date, in one of his favorite places, the mountains of southeastern Wyoming. Memorial services will be held at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vermont Street, Lawrence, Kan., on Sunday, June 7, 2015 at 2:00 p.m., Rev. Peter Luckey, officiating.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas in care of the Warren McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, Kansas 66044-3402 or to

1 Condolences

  1. Tad mcgee on March 6, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    My name is Thaddeus Martin McGee, I am now 16 and I live in Topeka ks. My father was indeed my biggest supporter. I still miss him even though it’s almost 8 years. I will always miss him and I will always love. he is always with me even in death.he is with me when I play his trumpet for my band. I will always love him.

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