This past Sunday I was met with the greatest surprise while setting up my table for the Bus Tour at Keste. I saw someone standing near the entrance and when I turned the corner to greet them I was met with a face I hadn’t seen in YEARS! There stood Mary Magee, who has been on several tours including a private bus tour for her 65th birthday. She was introduced to the tour by her husband, Don Magee.
The first time Don Magee took a pizza tour back in April 2010, he told me he was a “food tour connoisseur,” which scared the heck out of me. I was still a green tour guide and suffered from massive imposter syndrome. As I later discovered, Don used walking tours as a means of rehabilitation after leg surgery. Every tour company knew him and we could all count on him to post about the tour on his blog.
Don became a staple on pizza tours, taking at least 15 of them over 5 years. He showed up when I ran a one-time-only Vegan Pizza Tour in June 2012. Our Lower East Side tour only lasted a couple years but Dom managed to take it at least twice! He even tried our short-lived Midtown tour in April 2014. Don wasn’t effusive or bubbly, serving the kind of straight face us tour guides often have trouble reading. He loved food and he loved learning. Having him on a tour was always a good sign.
Don was a serious food guy, having received a culinary degree from The French Culinary Institute in NYC. Don kept track of everything he ate on his aforementioned blog and also wrote articles and newsletters about food for his local paper, the Two River Times. After he died, I found out that he was active with an organization called 180, Turning Lives Around, which deals with domestic violence. This man was a force.
Don Magee passed away in October 2015 but I’ve stayed in touch with Mary ever since. When I saw Mary this weekend, it didn’t feel like it had been 8 years since we last met. She had brought with her a book she compiled of Don’s writing. It’s an absolute treasure, as is Don’s memory.