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East County Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 7 months ago

Lakewood Ranch educator's death a huge community loss

Greg McGrew, an administrator, teacher and coach, dies from cancer at 58.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

When Savannah McGee left her role in 2017 as a secretary for Greg McGrew, who was an assistant director at Manatee Technical College at the time, she was determined to use every lesson she learned from him in the future.

Those lessons were about leadership, respect, kindness and more.

“One of the biggest gifts Greg gave me was the ability for me to believe in myself and to see my own worth,” McGee said of

McGrew, who died Sept. 10 at 58 from multiple myeloma. “He helped me believe I could do things where in the past I would think they were out of reach. I think a lot of the confidence I gained in my career, like believing one day I could be a leader myself, came from the confidence I got because he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”

McGee said River Club's McGrew had a similar impact on others through his role as educator, colleague, friend, husband and father. She said he had a charisma and infectious positivity. 

“I looked up to him a lot, not only professionally but personally,” McGee said. “Very seldom in life do you meet someone who is so genuine and well rounded. He knew how to build relationships with people. He was a model leader as well. He was this beacon of fairness and equality.”

Cheryl McGrew, the principal at Gilbert W. McNeal Elementary School, remembered sitting with her husband of 36 years and sharing stories about their day. He would get a kick out of the silly things Cheryl McGrew’s elementary students would say while he talked about the work his students were doing at MTC.

She remembered in 2015 when cosmetology students put a mask on one of his hands so they could compare how that hand would feel in comparison to his other hand.

“He came home and he was like, ‘Feel my hands,’” Cheryl McGrew said. “He knew more about cosmetology through his time there at MTC than he ever cared to know, but he enjoyed going to every department (at MTC).”

Greg and Cheryl McGrew met in their final year of high school in Indiana. The two became friends and then started dating.

“He blew me away,” Cheryl McGrew said. “He was such a cutie and so sweet. I knew he would make a great dad and a great husband.”

Greg McGrew convinced his future bride to attend Indiana State University. The couple graduated in May of 1985 and were married a month later. 

River Club's Greg McGrew loved his family and being an educator. Courtesy photo.

They bought a 100-year-old farmhouse and had their daughter, Jacqueline, three years later. 

The family spent spring breaks vacationing in Florida, so they eventually decided to move to East County in 1989. 

Greg McGrew started teaching in Manatee County at Sara Scott Harllee Middle School, which is now the Sara Scott Harllee Center. 

Then he moved to Lakewood Ranch High School when the school opened in 1998. Besides being a teacher, he was the girls golf coach and boys basketball coach. 

Cheryl McGrew spent time a few days after her husband’s death scrolling through his Facebook page reading the hundreds of stories people had to share about him.

She stumbled across a post from one of Greg McGrew’s past golfers.

The player had bought a brand new club for $200. When she swung the club, she accidentally let go and the club went flying into a lake at The River Club. Without hesitation, Greg McGrew took off his shoes and jumped into the lake, despite alligators, and retrieved it. 

“He became their hero at that point,” Cheryl McGrew said. “I can’t believe he jumped in there.”

Cheryl McGrew said her husband’s biggest legacy are their two children, Jacqueline Figueroa and Grant McGrew, and two grandchildren, Grayson and Jameson Figueroa. 

Over the summer, Greg McGrew would take Grayson and Jameson Figueroa on walks every Friday on the trails around Lakewood Ranch even when he was in pain.

“One of my best memories is watching them walk with him and their little hands holding his or they would hold sticks and be right there with Papa,” Cheryl McGrew said. “I called him Braveheart because he never complained.”

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