Weekly Feature

2011-07-14 / Front Page

McGrath, former school superintendent, dies at 84

John Pierce McGrath John Pierce McGrath John Pierce McGrath, 84, who served nearly two decades as superintendent of schools for West Seneca Central, died Tuesday, July 5, 2011.

Mr. McGrath was born Jan. 13, 1927, in Green Island, N.Y., where he graduated from Watervliet High School.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business education from Albany State College and a master’s degree in education from Canisius College. He also obtained certifications in school business administration and school district administration from the University at Buffalo.

Mr. McGrath taught in Seneca Falls, Pine Plains and Wilson, all in New York, as well as serving as area coordinator for Project Innovation, a federally funded program aimed at upgrading education in area schools within the Niagara and Orleans counties.

He left Wilson as a business administrator to take a similar position with the West Seneca Central School District. There, he was named superintendent in 1968 and held that post until his retirement in 1987.

During his tenure, Mr. McGrath oversaw a period of rapid student expansion — an increase from about 10,000 to 16,000 — as well as a decline of nearly 8,600 students.

Former district employees credit him with fostering open communication by distributing School Board notes to faculty, as well as directing a collaborative faculty-administration initiative to improve teacher evaluation methodology. He also was credited with managing budget, finance and building construction problems within the district.

In a School Board newsletter issued at the time of his retirement, it stated, “The taxpayers owe a lasting debt to his efficient management of the district finances.”

Mr. McGrath was an avid reader, expressed interest in history, enjoyed traveling and was a sports enthusiast.

He played basketball in high school and college, and also coached the sport at Wilson. Additionally, he enjoyed bowling and golf, and was a member of the Niagara Frontier, South Shore and Bethlehem Management golf clubs.

Most recently, he was an active member of the Cazenovia Senior Men’s Club and a member of the “Hustlers” bowling team.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret (nee Moriarity); sons, Thomas, Peter and Dermot; daughters, Laura and Barbara; stepdaughter, Kathleen Jaquin; four grandchildren; and sister, Zita Paone.

He was preceded in death by his brothers, Leo and Harry; and sisters, Rose, Peggy Canton and Barbara Ahern.

A Mass was held at Queen of Heaven Church in West Seneca on Saturday, July 9.

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