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Joseph Kavanagh McGeady, marine construction executive and community volunteer, dies

Joseph Kavanagh McGeady was active at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Severna Park.
Joseph Kavanagh McGeady was active at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Severna Park.

Joseph Kavanagh McGeady, a retired official of a marine heavy contracting business who became a community volunteer, died of respiratory failure Monday at his Severn Heights home. He was 88.

Born in Hagerstown, he was the son of Monica Straub, a homemaker, and her husband, Manus E. McGeady, a maritime contractor. The family lived in Baltimore on East 38th Street.

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Mr. McGeady attended Blessed Sacrament School and was a 1952 graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business and economics at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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His son Stuart K. McGeady said Mr. McGeady learned life lessons at the end of World War II and in the 1950s. He earned money driving a taxi in Baltimore, helped build the Harbor Tunnel, ran supplies at Maryland Shipbuilding & Drydock, and took jobs at the College Park student union.

Mr. McGeady met his future wife, Emily Faye Schultz, in and around where they lived as adolescents. He spotted her at Schwaab’s soda fountain on Greenmount Avenue and later asked her to dance at a Govans Elementary School record hop. They married in 1954.

He and his family later moved to Atlanta, where he was a Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. sales agent. In 1961, he joined Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing in the reflective products division and sold highway, railroad and airline market materials throughout the Southeast.

In 1968, Mr. McGeady returned to Baltimore and joined his brothers to take up the management of Martin G. Imbach Inc., a Curtis Bay-based marine construction firm.

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He, his wife and children then settled in Severna Park.

“As vice president and treasurer, my father worked with his brothers through thick and thin for 30 years, completing honest work throughout Baltimore harbor and across the Chesapeake Bay,” Stuart said. “He provided hundreds of jobs for workers and their families, including his own. Joe was mentor to many, but his summons for a chalkboard talk in the Imbach office was never cause for glee.”

Mr. McGeady and his family were the subject of news articles in 1986 when his son Joseph K. “Joe” McGeady, survived the sinking of the Pride of Baltimore I in a microburst north of Puerto Rico.

Mr. McGeady retired in 1998 and spent additional time with his wife, children and grandchildren.

“Somehow he found time for his friends, volunteer work, and hobbies and crafts. He sailed, rode motorcycles and flew,” Stuart said.

His son Joseph said: “My father was a jack-of-all-trades and master of some. He would strike up a conversation with anyone. Perhaps he was best known to friends and strangers alike as a purveyor of common sense and traditional values, and a gifted raconteur, with crafted segues and impeccable timing for the surprise punchline of a joke.”

Joseph added: “Deep down, first and foremost, Joe was a good and loving husband and father, employer, provider, teacher and volunteer. And a proud granddad.”

“My father was a gregarious extrovert,” Stuart said. “He had charisma and charm and deep blue eyes. He was skilled in salesmanship, and could stand in front of a group and hold his audience.”

Mr. McGeady was a donor to the Pride of Baltimore I and II, the Baltimore Museum of Industry and the Liberty Ship John W. Brown. He was also a volunteer at the Stella Maris’ Apostleship of the Sea and an AARP volunteer instructor at the Maryland Driver Safety and CarFit programs.

He drove a bus for a senior center and was active at his parish, St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Severna Park. He delivered casseroles to Our Daily Bread in downtown Baltimore.

Mr. McGeady was a longtime member of the Sailing Club of the Chesapeake.

“And when his lungs still were strong he played second tuba for the Bay Winds Orchestra in Annapolis,” Stuart said.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at St. John the Evangelist Church in Severna Park.

In addition to his wife of 67 years, a homemaker and hospital volunteer, Joe is survived by four sons, Stuart K. McGeady of Severn Heights, Joseph K. “Joe” McGeady Jr. of Thomaston, Maine, Matt McGeady of Chartwell and Patrick McGeady of Mago Vista; three daughters, Marcia Magette of Old Severna Park, Monica Ruppert of West Severna Park and Jennifer Bushnell of Severn Heights; 36 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

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