Francis J. Meagher, a retired attorney and partner in a general practice law firm, died of dementia complications May 3 at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. He was 94 and lived in Homeland for many years.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Ailsa Avenue in Lauraville-Hamilton, he was the son of Joseph Starr Meagher, a post office administrator and Dorothea E. Lutz, a homemaker. He attended St. Dominic’s School and was a 1945 graduate of Loyola High School, now Loyola Blakefield, where he played football and wrestled.
Shortly after enrolling at what is now Loyola University Maryland, he left school and joined the Army. He was trained to be a paratrooper and played football on an Army team.
Mr. Meagher formed friendships with his future professional associates while he played sports at Loyola. His wrestling coach was Philip H. Goodman, who would go on to serve as mayor of Baltimore. Mr. Goodman later invited Mr. Meagher to join his law practice, along with another Loyola wrestler, Jack Enoch.
Mr. Meagher also played defense on the lacrosse team with lifelong friend, Ray Wittelsberger.
After leaving the military, Mr. Meagher used his GI Bill benefits to complete his bachelor’s degree at Loyola and went on to graduate from the Georgetown Law School.
Mr. Meagher met his future wife, Alma E. Duvall, after he left military service.
“I was then living on 28th Street at Barclay, and my friends told me, ‘Wait ‘til Franny Meagher gets home from the Army,” she said.
They met and married on Memorial Day 1950.
Early in their marriage, they lived on Saint Paul Street near Pennsylvania Station.
“This allowed them to quickly commute — my father to Georgetown Law School and my mother to work as a medical technician at the Hospital for the Women of Maryland [in Bolton Hill],” said their son, Brendan A. Meagher. "They soon moved to Hamilton and began raising 10 children together.”
Mr. Meagher became an Assistant State’s Attorney and was soon offered a law partnership by his former coach Philip Goodman. In 1955, they formed Goodman, Meagher & Enoch, a law firm that remains in practice. The were headquartered in the Equitable Building in downtown Baltimore.
“Franny Meagher was the glue that kept the firm together. He would listen to other people’s ideas and concerns, and would compromise when he was saw that others had a good point,” said law partner Leonard Grossman. “He treated clients as if they were relatives. The firm never advertised. Our business was all word-of-mouth. He was a great person to have as a partner.”
Mr. Meagher followed his boss’ advice. Mr. Goodman told him to take plenty of taxicabs and distribute stacks of business cards.
Mr. Grossman also said, “Franny was a religious, charitable and caring man.”
“My father was a plaintiff’s attorney with a practice centered on general liability,” said his son Brendan. “He developed a reputation among insurance companies for being a skilled and reasonable negotiator of settlements. He was proud of a practice where he served the little guy.”
Mr. Meagher and his wife moved with their family to Homeland’s Enfield Road in the late 1960s and became active members of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen parish.
“Both my parents were vigorous volunteers,” his son said. “At Cathedral, he volunteered as eucharistic minister, fundraiser and coach. My mother volunteered with the Adopt a Family Christmas charity she started, which still thrives, and helped Susan Tippett for years with Cathedral’s participation in the St. Ambrose housing.”
Mr. Meagher was also a Chimes, Inc, volunteer. His daughter, Mary, who had Down syndrome, was a client there.
He was a board member of the Institute of Notre Dame, the school his five daughters attended. In 1989, Mr. Meagher was honored by Roman Catholic legal association and the Saint Thomas More Society, as its “Man for All Seasons” for his “faith-inspired community engagement and leadership.”
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Mr. Meagher was the patriarch of his family and annually hosted a summer vacation at Bethany Beach, Delaware.
“This created fond memories for three generations of offspring,” his son said. “He entertained us in the evenings with cliffhanger, adventure stories whose heroes’ names were remarkably reminiscent of our own names.”
He and his wife were on the sidelines at family sports and musical events. He was a weekly golfer at the Mount Pleasant course.
He was a deeply religious Roman Catholic and was a daily communicant.
Mr. Meagher donated his body to science.
Survivors include his wife of 72 years, Alma E. Duvall, a homemaker and Cathedral School sports coach; three sons, Francis J. Meagher Jr. of Allentown, Pennsylvania, J. Patrick Meagher of Amherst, Massachusetts and Brendan A. Meagher of Baltimore; five daughters, Margaret M. Stringer of Towson, Brigid E. Meagher of St. Peter’s Village, Pennsylvania, M. Rebecca Heininger of York, Pennsylvania, Sheila M. Gemignani of Arroyo Grande, California and Moira B. Kukla of Charleston, South Carolina; 27 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren. His daughter, Mary K. Meagher died in 2003. A second daughter, Daria E. Filippelli died in 2019.
A Mass will be held at 11 a.m. June 3 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles Street.