James C. Monaghan Sr.

Age 87 The founder of a Riviera Beach plumbing business was active in civic and religious affairs.

When his father died, he dropped out of high school to go to work and support his family.

July 16, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun Reporter

James C. Monaghan Sr., the former owner of a Riviera Beach plumbing, heating and air-conditioning business who was also active in religious, civic and educational affairs, died Sunday of lymphoma at his daughter's home in St. Margarets. He was 87.

Mr. Monaghan, the eldest of 10 children, was born in Baltimore and raised in Arbutus and Irvington.

Mr. Monaghan dropped out of Mount St. Joseph High School after the death of his father.

"He was 17 when his father died, and he went to work in a shipyard and later at Edgewood Arsenal in order to help raise his young brothers and sisters," said Martha E. Monaghan, his daughter.

"In the late 1930s, he returned to night school and earned his GED. He also attended the University of Maryland at night and didn't earn his bachelor's degree in education until the early 1950s," she said.

Mr. Monaghan earned a master's degree from the University of Maryland in the early 1960s, family members said.

After World War II, Mr. Monaghan moved to Pasadena and established the James Monaghan Plumbing & Heating Co. in Riviera Beach.

While operating his business, Mr. Monaghan also taught plumbing and heating at night school at several Baltimore vocational schools.

In the early 1970s, he decided to close his business and teach full time at Lake Clifton High School and Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School.

"He was my teacher from 1974 to 1976 at Lake Clifton and was a very important part of my success," said James Scardina, owner of Scardina Plumbing & Heating in Millersville.

"He was a very patient teacher," Mr. Scardina said. "He was firm but very kind.

"We've always kept in touch, and whenever I opened a new shop, he'd always stop by and have his picture taken with me," he said.

Mr. Monaghan had been a member of the committee whose work resulted in the establishment in 1974 of Arundel Vocational-Technical Center, now Center for Applied Technology North in Glen Burnie.

He joined the school's faculty, and he continued teaching students plumbing and served as chairman of the construction department until retiring in 1985.

Mr. Monaghan was an active communicant of St. Andrew by the Bay Roman Catholic Church and was presented the Archdiocesan Medal of Honor in the late 1980s by Bishop William Newman for his outreach to the community and his church work.

For nearly 20 years, Mr. Monaghan was coordinator of Chores and More, an ecumenical outreach program that served homebound parishioners.

Mr. Monaghan took care of the plumbing needs for the nuns who lived in the convent at St. Jane's Frances de Chantal Roman Catholic Church in Pasadena, said Paul Monaghan, a brother who lives in Overlea.

"He donated his time and never charged them," he said.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus for more than 65 years and was a member of the Order of Alhambra. He played a major role in the construction of the Columbia Center for the Knights of Columbus in Severna Park, family members said.

Mr. Monaghan, who had lived in St. Margarets since 1967, had been a member of the board of North Arundel Savings Bank since the early 1960s, and at his death was its chairman.

"He was an integral part of our small savings bank," said Micky V. Thomas, bank president. "He was easygoing and very laid-back. One of my staff recalled how he'd come in and greet everybody with a big 'Howdy.' "

An Eagle Scout, Mr. Monaghan established a Boy Scout troop at St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church on Wilkens Avenue, and he had served as leadership training chairman for the Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Mr. Monaghan enjoyed reading history books, listening to classical music and attending concerts of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

He also was an inveterate collector and wearer of hats, and was especially fond of an Irish tweed cap, his daughter said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at his church, 701 College Parkway.

Also surviving are his wife of 19 years, the former Gertrude Cermak; two sons, James C. Monaghan Jr. of St. Margarets and Patrick J. Monaghan of Baltimore; two stepsons, Danny Cermak of Crofton and Jimmy Cermak of Pasadena; four stepdaughters, Peggy Castignola of Crofton, Marie Truffer of Sykesville, Joan Cade of Pasadena and Karen Emge of Lebanon, Pa.; another brother, Donald Monaghan of Irvington; two sisters, Sister Mary de Lourdes of Baltimore and Patricia Robb of El Paso, Texas; 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. His wife of 45 years, the former Vera Wiebking, died in 1986.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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