Those We Lost: Passings in the Irish-American Community
By Irish America Staff
February / March 2012
Margaret Corbett Daley
Maggie Daley, the wife of former Mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley, passed away at home in Chicago on November 24th. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.
A much-beloved figure, Daley, 68, was Chicago’s first lady for 22 years. Throughout her husband’s six-term reign as mayor, she struck a fine balance between maintaining her family’s privacy and playing an active public role. She championed education programs for young people, developing gallery37, an arts-related jobs-training program for the city’s youth, and After School Matters, a city-wide program for Chicago’s students. She had also served as president of Pathways to Awareness, a nonprofit aimed towards informing parents about childhood disabilities. As mayor, Richard Daley often nudged funding towards some of her key causes.
Born Margaret Ann Corbett in 1943, Daley was the youngest child and only girl in a family of seven children. She grew up in Mount Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where her father ran an auto parts dealership.
She attended the University of Dayton, after which a job with Xerox took her to Chicago where she met Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, who was then mayor.
They married in March 1972, and had four children together: Norah, Patrick, Kevin and Elizabeth (“Lally”). Kevin died at 33-months from complications due to spina bifida.
Daley was laid to rest on November 28th, following a funeral service attended by her extended family, President Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Chicago residents who wished to pay their respects. For those who could not fit into the Old St. Patrick’s Church, video of the service was streamed to a nearby park where people were gathered – a sign of how much Chicago’s former first lady meant to the city.
1935 – 2011
Joseph Farrell, the founder and former chairman and CEO of National Research Group, which revolutionized the film industry by introducing the now standard practice of market research, died in Los Angles on December 7th.
Farrell founded NRG in 1978, putting his background in the arts and political polling to a new use in forecasting the success of major motion pictures via demographic analysis. Of particular note was NRG’s influence over the 1987 film Fatal Attraction, starring Glenn Close and Michael Douglas. Test audiences
indicated that the film’s original ending was unsatisfying, and Farrell recommended that the ending be changed. His advice was followed, and the film went on to become a commercial and critical hit.
Born in New York City in 1935, Farrell initially seemed interested in becoming a priest, but dropped out of a seminary at age 18. He then attended St. John’s University, studied sculpture at Notre Dame and earned a law degree from Harvard. He held various positions with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Louis Harris and Associates, and the American Council of Arts. He was also the author of three books, and designed furniture under the name Giuseppe Farbino.
NRG was bought by the Dutch media company VNU in 1996. Farrell and his business partner, Catherine Paura, left NRG in 2003 to found their own production company, FP productions. Farrell is survived by his wife, Italian actress Jo Champa, and their son, Sean.
1937 – 2011
The 29th Knight of Glin, Desmond FitzGerald, died on September 14 in Ireland, at the age of 74, after battling cancer for two years. FitzGerald was the last heir to one of Ireland’s oldest hereditary titles, also called the Black Knight.
FitzGerald was recognized by many as a ‘true patriot’ and a ‘passionate man.’ Since 1991 until his death, he was president of the Irish Georgian Society and spent much of his life dedicated to preserving Irish art, architecture and heritage. He was involved in many projects, including the restoration of Irish country houses, parks, gardens, and his own family estate of Glin Castle. He authored several books and articles on painting, architecture, landscape and furniture.
FitzGerald was born on July 13, 1937 to Desmond FitzGerald, the 28th Knight of Glin, and Veronica Villiers. He left Ireland and was educated at the University of British Columbia and received his master’s degree in fine arts from Harvard University. After graduation, he moved to London and worked as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum for 11 years before returning to Ireland to inherit the title.
Desmond FitzGerald leaves behind a wife, Madam Olda FitzGerald, and his three daughters, Catherine, Nesta and Honor.
John P. Foley
1935 – 2011
Cardinal John Patrick Foley, former spokesman for the Vatican, passed away on December 11th in Darby, Pa. He was 76. The cause, according to the Catholic News Service, was leukemia.
Cardinal Foley’s voice is recognizable to many as the English narrator for the pope’s Christmas midnight Mass. His official title was president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and he helped issue church declarations, coordinate news coverage and expand the church’s electronic news media.
Cardinal Foley was ordained in 1962 after attending St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. He graduated from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia in 1957, with honors in history. He decided to follow the advice of his mentor, Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia, and earned a master’s from the Columbia Journalism School in 1963. He was media liaison for Pope John Paul II’s visit to the United States in 1979. In 1984, Cardinal Foley was named an archbishop and the Vatican spokesman.
Born on November 11, 1935 in Darby, Pa., John P. Foley was the only child of John Edward Foley and Regina Vogt. He leaves no immediate survivors.
Oscar O’Neal Griffin, Jr.
1933 – 2011
Oscar O’Neal Griffin, Jr., passed away at his home in Texas at the age of 78 on November 23 due to cancer. Griffin is best known as the reporter who helped expose the fraud schemes of business tycoon Billy Sol Estes. He earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1963 for distinguished local reporting.
In the 1960s, Billy Sol Estes ruled the town of Pecos, Texas, after buying up businesses and having political connections to longtime friend, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.
That was until Oscar Griffin, then a 29-year-old reporter, published four investigative articles in 1962. Griffin exposed that Estes had borrowed $24 million, using phantom fertilizer tanks as collateral, and sold mortgages on the nonexistent tanks to farmers. Estes was arrested on March 29, 1962.
Griffin was born on April 28, 1933 in Daisetta, Texas. He served in the Army and graduated from University of Texas in 1958. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. Following his work at the Pecos Independent, Griffin joined the Houston Chronicle. He covered the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and worked as a spokesman for the Transportation Department.
Griffin leaves behind his wife, Patricia Lamb, three daughters, a son, and seven grandchildren.
Patrick V. Murphy
1920 – 2011
Patrick V. Murphy, former New York City policeman who led the Police Department through a period of reform in the early 1970’s, died on Friday, December 16 at a hospital in North Carolina, due to complications following a heart attack. He was 91.
Murphy joined the police force in 1945, starting out as a foot patrol officer in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. In 1970, Mayor John V. Lindsay appointed him to the Knapp Commission to help expose police officer involvement in bribery, heroin transactions, and information selling. Murphy began planting spies within the Department to uncover corruption, in the process establishing stricter standards of performance.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and a master’s in public administration from the City College of New York. He also graduated from the F.B.I. National Academy. Murphy was born in 1920 , in Brooklyn, to Patrick and Nellie Murphy. The two had immigrated to the United States from County Cork, Ireland. His father and two of his older brothers, Andrew and John, were also New York City police officers. He was one of eight children.
Patrick and his wife, Martha, had since moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. He is survived by Martha, their eight children, 21 grandchildren 17 great-grandchildren and two sisters.
1952 – 2011
Caroline Walsh, the long-time literary editor of the Irish Times, died unexpectedly on December 22 in Dublin. She was 59.
A much-loved and highly regarded figure in Ireland’s literary community, Walsh had joined the paper in 1975. She held various positions, including features editor and regional news editor, and had been literary editor since 1999. In an article published shortly after her death, novelist John Banville, who was Walsh’s predecessor at the Irish Times, recalled
“I remember vividly, with a renewed stab of mortification, at the end of her first week in the job opening the Weekend section and being dazzled by the blaze of energy, inventiveness and imagination that her pages gave off. A new star had arrived in the literary firmament.”
Born in 1952, Walsh was a daughter of the noted Irish short story writer Mary Lavin. She earned degrees in English and art history from University College Dublin, and lived in London for a short time after graduating before starting to write for the Irish Times at age 22 and devoting the rest of her career to the paper. She was the author of The Homes of Irish Writers, and the editor of three collections of Irish short stories. She was married to novelist James Ryan, with whom she had a son and a daughter.
A funeral service took place in Dublin on December 24. Walsh’s family, the staff of the Irish Times and the writers and poets who were Walsh’s friends and colleagues paid tribute. Those in attendance included poets Seamus Heaney, Denis O’Driscoll, Paul Durcan and Theo Dorgan and novelists John Banville, Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton and Claire Kilroy.