Today we’re having a memorial for my father, who passed away last month. I wrote up a brief tribute and thought I’d share it here:
James P. McGrath passed away on October 18th, 2019 in Hamburg, New York. The son of James McGrath Sr. and Mary Kate (née Flanagan), he was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1932, and lived most of his life there. Jim earned a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in social studies from Brooklyn College, as well as an advanced certificate in educational administration and supervision, and a certificate in mediation and conflict resolution. He served his country in the Korean War. Jim taught social studies for many years at Seth Low Intermediate School 96. He took time off from teaching to work on Mayor John V. Lindsay’s campaigns and to serve on his Urban Action Task Force and Office of Neighborhood Government, an effort to reduce violence in schools. After health issues forced him to leave classroom teaching, Jim wrote for a number of newspapers, eventually writing the weekly column “People, Places and…” for the Brooklyn Graphic newspaper, of which he also served as editor in chief for 14 years. More recently he authored a column titled “State Side…” for the Hamburg, New York newspaper The Sun and Erie Independent.
Jim was a community activist who over the years supported many projects to benefit his local community, whether through organizations he was involved in such as Kiwanis (in which he occupied a number of leadership positions), raising awareness through his column, fundraising campaigns, or public relations for politicians, judges, and others who he believed would benefit the community. As one example, during his time on the Coney Island Hospital Advisory Board, he worked to raise money for the hospital to acquire a CAT scan, which was a new technology at the time. When his wife Joan preceded him in death, he founded the Joan A. McGrath Foundation to continue those efforts. This was shortly before Jim was received into the Brooklyn Hall of Fame in 1983, the first journalist to be honored in this way. He was always seeking to help others throughout his life, and never allowed health issues or other setbacks to deter him, even though in the latter part of his life they certainly slowed him down.He is preceded in death by his sisters Joan and Mary, and survived by his children Barbara, Stephanie, James, and Rose; his grandchildren Elyssa, Brandon, Alexander, Joseph, and Elena; his ex-wife Joan; his partner Sue Ganey; and his brothers John and Bill along with many nieces and nephews.
Here’s a photo of the newspaper that reported on my dad’s induction into the Brooklyn Hall of Fame: