Sunday, January 30, 2005
Civic leader James Meagher dies
Rep. Northup talks of dad's devotion
By Sheldon S. Shafersshafer@courier-journal.com
James L. Meagher, a longtime local business and civic leader whose 11 children included a congresswoman and an Olympic gold medalist, died last night at Baptist Hospital East after a short illness.
Meagher, 82, "was handsome, successful and a great guy. He was devoted to his family, Notre Dame and the community. He and my mother made raising 11 kids look easy," U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, R-3rd District, said of her father last night.Another daughter, Mary T. Meagher Plant, won three gold medals in swimming at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and was also a member of the 1980 and 1988 U.S. Olympic teams.
Meagher retired in 1987 after a long business career, serving many years as president and CEO of S & T Industries and a predecessor company that he helped build into one of the country's largest hardware wholesaling and manufacturing concerns.Northup said her father and his wife, the former Floy Terstegge, who survives him, attended Mass almost daily. They were members of Holy Trinity Catholic Church and lived in Maryhill Estates.Retired Louisville banking executive Malcolm Chancey said last night that Meagher served about 15 years on the boards of Louisville Trust and then Liberty Bank, which absorbed Louisville Trust.Chancey, who was Liberty's president and CEO, said he often sought Meagher's opinion on business matters and "he never gave me bad advice. He was a man of principle who remembered his humble origins. He was a wonderful, wonderful family man and friend, and I will miss him greatly."
Meagher was a native of Valparaiso, Ind., where his father had a pharmacy. He went to the University of Notre Dame, where he studied business administration and played varsity basketball, graduating in 1944. It was there that he met his future wife, while she was attending St. Mary's College.After graduating, he became a Navy officer. His three years of active duty included being part of the invasion force against several Pacific islands aboard an attack cargo ship.He was married during a leave from the Navy, and after leaving the service he and his wife came to Louisville, her hometown, to live.
Meagher began working as a traveling representative for Stratton & Terstegge, a hardware manufacturer that members of her family founded in the late 1800s.He worked his way up to become S & T's president in 1961.The firm for many years had factories in Louisville and New Albany, Ind. At one time the S & T chain of hardware stores numbered nearly 500.S & T Industries' name disappeared when it merged with C & H Capital Corp. in 1983. Meagher stayed on for several years as a member of the corporation's board before retiring, Northup said.
Over the years, Meagher was president of the Southern Hardware and the National Wholesale Hardware associations.He was a major fund-raiser for Notre Dame and served on the boards of Spalding, Bellarmine and Ursuline colleges. He was a vice president of the University of Notre Dame Alumni Board.He was active in fund raising for Metro United Way and also helped raise money in the 1970s to build the bubble at the Crescent Hill swimming pool, a facility rebuilt in the 1990s and named the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center.Arrangements will be by Ratterman Funeral Home in St. Matthews.