Captain Harold Albert McGrath, Jr., USN (Ret), 81, of Roanoke, VA, died September 11, 2011, in his home. Hal was born December 20, 1929, in New York. He was preceded in death by his father Harold Albert McGrath, Sr.; mother Lucille Sievert and step-father, Herman Sievert; son Terrence McGrath; son Brian McGrath; and daughter Deborah McGrath.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Geraldine Larkin McGrath; the remaining six of nine children: daughter Kerry Ann McGrath Conrad and husband, Stephen; daughter Dr. Meredith McGrath, DVM, and husband, David; son Gerry McGrath and wife, Anna; daughter Deirdre McGrath; son Patrick McGrath and wife, Barbara; daughter Darcy McGrath Chaney and husband, John; grandsons: Aaron Conrad, Christian Conrad and wife Joanna, Derrick Reed (step), Derek McGrath, Sean McGrath, Brian McGrath, Jack Chaney (step), and Finton Chaney; granddaughters: Keli Conrad Whitlock and husband, Donnie, Bedelia Burris-McGrath, Katherine McGrath, Nicole Chaney (step), and Kerrigan Chaney; great-grandsons: Kody Whitlock, and Terrence Whitlock; and his sister Marion MacGrath.
Captain McGrath always knew he wanted to join the Navy and became a member of the American Blue Jackets at the age of eight. He graduated from St. Ann’s Academy in 1947 and graduated from Iona College in 1951 with a BS in Physics. He entered the Navy in June 1948 at Fort Schuyler, Bronx, NY. After graduating from Iona, he entered the Navy’s Reserve Officer’s Candidate Program in Newport, RI, and was commissioned as an Ensign. He served aboard the USS Daniel A. Joy from November 1951 – June 1954. He then served aboard the USS Tarawa from June 1954 – January 1955. He continued on sea duty and serve aboard the USS Kyne from January 1955 – January 1956. He transferred to Washington D.C. in January 1956 to work with the CNO Special Projects division until June 1956. He attended the Navy’s Post Graduate School in Monterey, CA, from June 1956 – June 1958, graduating with a degree in Engineering. From there he went to the New York Naval Ship Yard in Brooklyn, NY, from June 1958 – June 1960. He transferred to the Staff of COMINPAC in Long Beach, CA, where he served for three years before transferring to NAVSHIPREPPAC in Guam in September 1963. In 1965 he again went to Washington, D.C., where he served with NAVSHIPS until Jun 1968. He next served at COMSERPAC, Pearl Harbor, HI from July 1968 – August 1971. Captain McGrath then transferred to San Diego, CA, where he assumed command of the Naval Electronics Systems Engineering Center, Southwest Division. He served as the Commanding Officer until August 1975 when he transferred to his final tour of duty in Washington, DC, at NAVALEX Systems Command until his retirement in June 1979.
During his years of service he earned the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with one Gold Star, Vietnamese Navy Service Medal, National defense Service Medal with one Bronze Star, Vietnamese Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, and Vietnam Campaign Medal with one Device.
Captain McGrath retired from the Navy after 31 years of service on June 1, 1979, and went to work for Hughes Aircraft in Newport Beach, CA, where he was in charge of Research and Development. He retired from Hughes in September 1992.
The McGrath’s then moved to Floyd, VA, where Capt. McGrath worked with the VFW Post # 7854. He initiated and coordinated the first Veteran’s Day Parade in Floyd, and continued to coordinate the parade until 2005. He also initiated the Main Street American Flag Display Program in Floyd where American Flags are displayed along the two main streets in the Town of Floyd during federal holidays. He was a member of the Great Oaks Country Club where he was an avid golfer. They moved to Roanoke, VA, in 2005, and became members of St. Andrews Catholic Church. They were members of the Shenandoah Club and Military Officer’s Association of America.
A Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated 11:00 am on Wednesday, September 14, at St. Andrews Catholic Church with the Reverend Monsignor Thomas Miller officiating. Viewing will be held at Oakeys Funeral Home on Church Ave. on Tuesday, September 13, at 2:00 – 4:00 pm and 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Internment will be held at Long Island National Cemetery in Famingdale, NY on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 10:30 A.M. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the St. Andrews Catholic Church Building Fund, 631 North Jefferson St., Roanoke, VA 24016 or to the Military Family Service Center, Attn: Wounded Warriors Program, PO Box 1122, 901 Russell St., Salem, VA 24153.