George R. Mahoney, a life-long resident of Port Washington, died on Oct. 9, 2004. Mr. Mahoney, 87, was a retired Port Washington Police Department sergeant and was for many years director of the Port Washington Police Athletic League.
Mr. Mahoney, a volunteer firefighter, has been a member of Protection Engine Company for 67 years. He was also a member of the Exempt Fire Fighters organization. A veteran of the United States Army, Mr. Mahoney served in Europe during World War II and participated in the Allied landing in France on D-Day. He was a member of St. Peter of Alcantara RC Church, where he served as a Eucharistic Minister and usher and assisted with the weekly collection.
Mr. Mahoney was a past president of the Port Washington Lions Club, a charter member of the Manhassset Bay Sportsmen's Club, a member of the Elks Club, and an honorary life member of the American Legion Nassau Police Post 1050.
Mr. Mahoney, born in Sands Point, was the son of the late Patrick and Agnes Mahoney. He is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Margaret Ethel and Robert Hoar. He was predeceased by his brothers and sisters-in-law, John and Margaret Mahoney, and Thomas and Catherine Mahoney. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews, Patricia Voras, John Mahoney Jr., Sheila Fremont, Kathleen Finnerty, William Hoar, Pamela Hoar, and 18 great nieces and nephews, and one great-great nephew. He was predeceased by his nephew, James Hoar.
Funeral arrangements were handled by Austin F. Knowles, Inc. Funeral Home. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2004 at 9:30 a.m. at St. Peter of Alcantara RC Church. The interment followed at Holy Rood Cemetery.
(Ed.'s note: Following is the eulogy given by PWFD Chaplain Tom Tobin. It details the wonderful life and contributions made by George Mahoney.)
My brothers and sisters, we are gathered this evening not only to pay our final tribute to a brother firefighter and police officer who has been called to his eternal reward; but equally to celebrate the life and accomplishments of a man who has had a positive effect on the lives of more young men and women than any other person or institution on the Port Washington peninsula. Shortly we will read the words "no expression of ours can fill the vacant place he held in the home and community." As we consider his contributions to both areas I believe that this statement can be validly applied to George.
Traditionally, we would commence the eulogy for a deceased member by reciting his or her company service record. But in the case of George Mahoney that would be grossly inadequate because his accomplishments extend far beyond the service he rendered to the Port Washington community as a member of the Port Washington Fire Department.
Born to Patrick and Agnes Mahoney, Feb. 2, 1917, George was raised on the Van Wart Estate and educated in the Port schools. He followed his brothers Jake, Jack to the family, and Tom into PECO being elected to membership on Nov. 4, 1937. In later years, these jolly giants were to be the only three brothers, each with 50 years of service, and active members in New York State. George's personnel record indicates that he was an active firefighter and was a member of the Rangers softball and motorized drill teams. His committee assignments included the entertainment and grave committees. According to company historians, George introduced "Smokey" the company's famous or infamous Dalmation mascot to PECO. Who among us with more than 25 years, can forget this huge man filling in for Santa at the children's Christmas party? And how many times have we used George's horse-drawn sleigh to lend an air of realism to the Christmas season?
George's dedication to Protection Engine Co. was without question. He told me the only regret he had concerning PECO was his inability to accept the office of foreman due to a police department regulation prohibiting Port police officers from holding an office in the PWFD.
Although his record as a firefighter is well known to those of us who served with him I think it is correct, to acknowledge that he is best known to the community as the policeman who ran the Port Washington Police Athletic League. As I understand it George joined the PWPD on Dec. 15, 1945, shortly after being discharged from the United States Army. Assigned to motorcycle patrol and traffic control, George recognized the need for an organization with programs to keep the youth of Port Washington occupied after school and on weekends.
Together with the late beloved Ptl. Tom Brown, George undertook the establishing of the PAL. Initially, Tom Brown ran the day-to-day operations as "Sarge" continued patrol duties. But in 1958 unfortunately illness caused Tom to retire and "Sarge" assumed the duties of the head of the organization.
His dedication to its success is documented by his many accomplishments "Sarge" convinced the Police Commissioners to turn over the old police station building to the PAL for activities. Together with his brother police and firemen, and the many generous donations of equipment and money by the local merchants, contractors, and tradesmen they completely renovated the building. George then set out to establish a baseball field on the property owned by the Port Washington Sewer District and with the donation of an untold number of yards of fill, by the Lewis Oil Co., created the current baseball and softball facility. Many days George could be seen cutting the grass, raking and marking the field for the games scheduled to be played that day.
As time went on he added a cheerleading program, girls softball leagues, a boys basketball team and a high school summer basketball league. With the assistance of volunteers like Bob "Deacon" Reese, Tom Murray, Sr., Jimmy Capparella, among others, "Sarge" converted part of the building to a full training center for young men who wanted to participate in the "Golden Gloves" amateur boxing competition. Among these aspiring prizefighters was a young man who today is highly regarded not as a boxer but rather a successful TV actor Tony Danza.
With all these achievements, "Sarge" was determined to provide an activity to involve those boys and girls who did not lean to athletics. So he organized the PAL Drum and Bugle Corp. In a few short years, with the assistance of James Drago, musical director, and many parents, the Corps grew from a few members to approximately 75 musicians, twirlers, and flag carriers, and won several first place prizes in NY State Firemens parade appearances.
Though he retired from the PWPD on March 1, 1979, George continued to assist in the transition of PAL to the new leaders.
Before leaving "Sarge's" career as a police officer there is a personal experience I would like to enter into his record. I grew up on Fairview Avenue in the house next door to George's brother Tom. Tom was a patrolman with the Sands Point PD, and it was a custom that when Tom and George worked the same shift, George would stop at Tom's house to check on Tom's wife Kitty and the children. On this particular occasion George came up the street and stood up from his motorcycle in front of Tom's house. However, George for some reason neglected to turn off his Harley Davidson police motorcycle and it continued on and came to a halt against the front porch of our house.
Although George was a highly visible person through his public service, in actuality George was a very humble and private person. There was a side of George that he kept to himself and discussed with few if at all. He was a devoutly religious man who attended mass daily at St. Peter's as often as he could until failing health limited his attendance. His contribution of time and funds to the support of his church I am sure were substantial. But his military service, particularly his combat experience, is probably the part of his life that he guarded most intensely.
Sunday evening as I sat with Ethel, Bob, and Pam, I read George's DD214, which is the official record of each person who served in the Armed Forces of the United States. Aside from indicating the normal information that he enlisted on Sept. 2, 1942, was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division; attained the rank of T/Sgt., and was discharged Oct. 11, 1945 his record indicates that his unit landed on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and later he participated in the Battle of the Bulge at Cherbourg, St. Mere-Egliese, and the liberation of Paris. The record further indicates that during these campaigns T/Sgt. George Mahoney was awarded four bronze stars for valor and one bronze star with arrowhead. To my knowledge "Sarge" never mentioned these awards to anyone.
I mentioned that George was a devoutly religious man. Ethel told me that at the time the war against the Japanese ended (V-J Day), George was home on furlough waiting to be reassigned to the war in the Pacific Theatre. When the news of the pending Japanese surrender was broadcast, while all Americans took to the streets in celebration, George Mahoney drove to St. Peter's Church and spent most of the night in prayer and meditation.
My brothers and sisters tonight as we pay our final tribute to brother fireman and police officer, let us celebrate his life, among us and draw from him the strength to continue his work in the community.
Ethel, to you and the Mahoney clan gathered here, I know I speak for the PWFD and PWPD, and indeed for the entire community, when I say thank you for having shared George with us. And I am confident that when George's soul arrived in heaven on Saturday he was greeted by our Lord accompanied by Patrick, Agnes, Jack and Tom; and our Lord welcomed him with the words "well done good and faithful servant enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
Delivered Oct. 12, 2004
Thomas J. Tobin