This picture taken in 1937 in California shows, back row, John A. Magee and Catherine Magee, and front row, shortest to tallest, Robert, Betty and Jack Jr. A fourth child, Sally, isn't in the picture.


Homesteading - or claiming federal land with the intent of living on it and improving it - gave a prominent northwest-side street its name.

Lt. Col. John Arthur Magee homesteaded some land on Tucson's northwest side. In an interview with his granddaughter, Catherine Euler, a few years before his death, Magee said: "Homesteading was the interest of many in 1929. We homesteaded 640 acres, 10 miles northwest of Tucson. I had learned that a homesteader wished to relinquish his claim on this land, so I bought his little frame house a mile west of Oracle Road at the northwest corner of what became Magee Road and La Cañada (Drive). We lived there four or five years and got a patent deed to the section."

Magee was born in 1899 in the New York City borough of Queens to John W. Magee, a lawyer, and Florence (Hull) Magee. He came to Tucson in 1919 and earned his degree from the University of Arizona in 1924.

While at the university, he played for the first university polo team, which competed in the U.S. Polo Championship against Princeton in 1924.

At college he also met his future wife, Catherine Fowler. They married in 1925.

After graduation, Magee entered the U.S. Forest Service and was stationed in the Santa Rita Mountains at the Southwest Experimental Station.

Magee was chairman of the Chamber of Commerce's New Industries Committee, which began the city of Tucson's acquisition of the land now occupied by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. He served in World War I in the Navy, and spent two years after World War II, 1947 to 1949, in Japan with the 24th Infantry Division and 8th Army. While there, his wife taught English to Japanese teachers.

In 1950, Magee returned to the U.S. Forest Service, this time in California. He retired eight years later and returned to Tucson. He remained active through the Southern Arizona Hiking Club.

Catherine Magee spent several years as director of the Beacon Foundation. She also authored two novels, "The Crystal Horse" and "One of the Family."

John and Catherine had four children: Jack, Betty and Bob, who were born in Tucson, and Sally, who was born in San Diego.

Jack died in 1990 and Catherine in 1987.

Magee Road was officially recorded with Pima County in 1931 and is named in honor of John and Catherine.

Editor's note

Each week the Star will tell the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at

Sources: Special thanks to Jane Eppinga, author of the book "Saguaro National Park"; Yvonne Magee and Sarah "Sally" Magee Moffett; Catherine A. Euler, "The Life of John Arthur Magee, Sr.: Early Arizona Homesteader," self-published, 1985 (In private collection); John A. Magee obituary, Arizona Daily Star, May 20, 1990; "Services are set for John Magee; teacher, soldier," Arizona Daily Star, May 20, 1990; "Catherine Magee dies; ran agency," Arizona Daily Star, March 15, 1987; Office of Vital Records; Homestead Records - U.S. Bureau of Land Management