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John Hillen Macsherry, retired industrial relations director for Kennecott Refining Corp., dies

John Hillen Macsherry
John Hillen Macsherry

John Hillen Macsherry, a retired Kennecott refining executive who helped establish its Curtis Bay plant, died of cancer complications Oct. 26 at the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson. He was 91.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Clinton Kilty Macsherry, a broker for MacKubin and Legg, and his wife, Marian Shriver Macsherry, a homemaker. He grew up at Merryman Court in Roland Park, attended the Cathedral School and was a 1946 Loyola High School graduate. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.

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As a child he spent time at the Shriver family homestead in Union Mills in Carroll County.

“These trips to the country were some of his fondest memories,” said his son, Daniel S. Macsherry. “It was the Depression and he learned to do on his own.”

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He met his future wife, Mary Frances Shehan, in 1950 in New York City. He was part of a group from Baltimore attending the Frank Loesser musical, “Where’s Charlie?” A family member handed out theater tickets. Mr. Macsherry was told to accompany Miss Shehan. They married two years later.

They lived for many years on Hawthorn Road where they raised their six children.

Mr. Macsherry began his career in industrial relations at the Davison Chemical Company in Baltimore and was later transferred to its Cincinnati office.

“My father was an engaging, gregarious person. He was outgoing and it did not matter to him who you were,” his son said. “He taught me and my siblings to engage people in a positive manner. He chatted to all store clerks and we had to drag him out of a hardware store.”

In 1959 Mr. Macsherry returned to Baltimore to work for Kennecott Refining Corporation. Mr. Macsherry was part of the executive team that opened the Curtis Bay refinery in Curtis Bay and later became the director of industrial relations.

“During the 1960s and 1970s he left Baltimore for extended periods when he did union negotiations in Utah,” said his son, who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

He hired the Curtis Bay Kennecott plant’s staff and helped supervise its construction. He retired in 1987 when the refinery closed and became a consultant for the company.

Mr. Macsherry served on the Board of Directors of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland from 1972 to 1981. He was also a member of the Union Mills Homestead Foundation and the ARC of Baltimore.

In 1989 the Macsherrys built a home in Hunt Valley where they spent a number of years entertaining their children and grandchildren.

Mr. Macsherry enjoyed sailing and playing golf. He was also an avid gardener and woodworker. He would borrow a neighbor’s truck to haul fertilizer from mushroom beds in Glyndon to his Hawthorn Road home where he raised eggplant, tomatoes and squash, as well as roses. He built fireplace benches for his children and caned chair seats.

“My father was thrifty and really enjoyed his do-it-yourself projects. If he was uncertain how to do something, he got a book and studied it. He many many visits to Schneider’s hardware near our home and also would grab the Hechinger ad in the Sunday paper to see what was on sale at the right price,” his son said.

Mr. Macsherry taught his children how to sand wood and paint and keep up a home.

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“He was a busy person who got up early and always had a project going,” his son said.

Mr. Macsherry traveled widely with his wife. He studied up on the places they would visit and set up well-researched itineraries.

“He planned every trip and worked hard doing the research. He was very helpful. We had marvelous trips," his wife said.

In 2002 the Macsherrys took their children and their spouses to Ireland to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

In addition to his wife of 68 years, a former Hunts School teacher and Franciscan Center, St. Joseph Hospital and Stella Maris volunteer, and his son, survivors include another son, John H. Macsherry Jr. of Baltimore; three daughters, Patricia M. Pontier and Elizabeth M. Moag, both of Baltimore and Meredith M. Patten of Columbia, South Carolina; a sister, Emily M. Belt of Amherst, Massachusetts, 19 grandchildren; and nine great grandchildren. His daughter, Mary Frances Macsherry, died in November 2019.

A private funeral was held.

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