J. Paul Gahagan, a retired Social Security Administration disability analyst and an accomplished woodworker, died Sunday at College Manor Nursing Home in Lutherville of complications from an infection. He was 87.
James Paul Gahagan — he never used his first name, family members said — was born in Baltimore and raised in East Baltimore.
"He grew up on Aiken Street and had many childhood adventures, including walking over the beams of the Howard Street bridge," said a daughter, Kathy Briggs of Stoneleigh.
After graduating in 1944 from Calvert Hall College High School, Mr. Gahagan enlisted in the Army Air Forces. He was stationed in the Philippines until the end of World War II.
After returning to Baltimore, he joined the Baltimore Police Department in 1947, where he was a patrolman and traffic officer. He also worked for America-Fore as an insurance adjuster.
He attended law school at night at the University of Baltimore, where he earned his law degree in 1955. From 1960 until retiring in 1986, he worked as a disability analyst for Social Security.
Mr. Gahagan enjoyed home improvement projects and building furniture and decorative items that he sold at craft fairs throughout Maryland.
In his garage workshop, he built a dollhouse that was an exact replica of his Regester Avenue home, his daughter said. He was an avid golfer and made his own clubs.
He and his wife of 64 years, the former Jean Robinson, had lived in Mays Chapel since the 1990s.
Mr. Gahagan had also worked as a movie extra and appeared in the films "Avalon" and "He Said, She Said."
Mr. Gahagan was a Baltimore Colts and Ravens fan, but his "true devotion was to Calvert Hall, where he attended many sporting events, especially football," said Ms. Briggs.
He had been one of the organizers of the Class of 1944 reunion, held in May.
He also liked doing genealogical research.
Mr. Gahagan was a communicant of St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 5502 York Road, Govans, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Gahagan is survived by two sons, James Paul Gahagan Jr. of Baltimore and Barry Gahagan of Rockville; two other daughters, Joan Dunn of Severna Park and Clare Gahagan of Towson; a sister, Maureen Baron of Loch Raven Village; and 11 grandchildren.