Harry P. McGrath, Sr., Esq., died unexpectedly September 7, 2015. Born in Washington, D.C. on August 6, 1957, he was the son of the late John T. and Margaret O’Neill McGrath. He was married to Joell Philbin McGrath, his devoted wife of 33 years. A proud graduate of Dunmore High School, Harry earned degrees from Kutztown University and Widener University School of Law, cum laude.
He was a partner in the law firm of O’Malley, Harris, Durkin and Perry PC, Scranton.
Before attending law school, Harry worked in the 1980’s as a special agent with the United States Secret Service. He received commendations for his work protecting both former President Ronald Reagan in Grenada, and former Vice President George H.W. Bush in the Khyber Pass, as well as special achievement and performance awards for noteworthy contributions to the effective and efficient operation of the Secret Service.
In 1992, Harry began his legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable William J. Nealon in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. A member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, he was also admitted to practice in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Harry twice served as chairman of Senator Robert P. Casey’s Judicial Selection Committee for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
A grandson of his namesake, the late Congressman Harry P. O’Neill, Harry learned to love politics at an early age, influenced by his parents and extended family, including his aunt Lois O’Neill Kelly, a former Dunmore Councilwoman. Throughout his life, he worked in support of Democratic candidates, and was elected Lackawanna Democratic Party chairman for two terms, 2006 through 2014. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Lackawanna County and a former treasurer of the organization.
Having served as a public school solicitor for over 30 years, Harry was a tireless advocate for children, especially students facing any type of learning disability. He was an early and strong supporter of the new Scranton High School project, working to ensure a quality education for generations of students to come. He continued his advocacy upon joining the private practice of law, fulfilling a lifelong passion for helping school-age children in need. Harry was a past member of the Board of Directors of The Friendship House.
In addition to his wife Joell, he is survived by four children Harry P., Jr., Esq., and wife Stephanie, Dunmore; Pennsylvania State Trooper Robert J., Elizabeth C., and Joseph J., all of Philadelphia; his three brothers, William J. McGrath and wife Margaret, John T. McGrath, Jr., Esq. and wife Suzanne, and Christopher O. McGrath and wife Jean, all of Dunmore; two sisters, Janet Brier and husband Timothy, Dunmore, and Margaret McGrath, Moosic Lakes. Also surviving are two brothers-in-law, Joseph Philbin, MD, and wife Mary Ellen, Clarks Summit, and John Philbin and wife Linda, Lancaster, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday at 10:30 am at St. Paul’s Church, 1510 Penn Ave., Scranton.
All attending the Mass are asked to go directly to the church. Interment Dunmore Cemetery.
Friends may call Thursday, 3:00 to 8:00 pm in the Vanston and James Funeral Home 1401 Ash St. Scranton.
Memorial contributions may be made to Spring Break for Autism at the Friendship House, 1509 Maple St., Scranton, PA 18505, or to the Greater Scranton YMCA, 706 N. Blakely St., Dunmore, PA 18512.
For directions, to share a memory or to leave a condolence please visit www.vanstonandjames.com