James A. McGrath

1938 - 2023

COOPERSTOWN – James Anthony McGrath, a long-time resident of Cooperstown and dedicated member of the Cooperstown Veterans Club passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early morning hours of Thursday, December 21, 2023, at the A.O. Fox Nursing Home in Oneonta. He was 85 years old. 

Born May 21, 1938, in Jersey City, New Jersey, Jim was one of eight children of John Thomas McGrath and Sophie R. (Maciag) McGrath. When he was 10 years old, Jim’s father passed away unexpectedly, and soon after the family moved to Hartwick. Jim attended school there and graduated with the Class of 1957, which was the last class to graduate from Hartwick High School.   

On February 13, 1958, Jim was inducted into the United States Air Force, and proudly served his country with the 4616th Air Base Squadron. Initially assigned to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, he eventually went overseas. He served as an aerospace control and warning systems operator (AC&W) and throughout his tour of duty often passed between East and West Berlin. He received his Honorable Discharge from the Military on May 31, 1962, and returned home to Hartwick, after work experience in Germany and marriage to Christa Rietzne in 1961. The marriage ended in divorce in 1967. 

On January 15, 1978, Jim married Janet Lee Hurlburt (whom he met on a blind date on January 15, 1971) in a ceremony at the First Baptist Church of Cooperstown, and they settled into their home on Elm Street. 

Throughout his life Jim was employed as a carpenter, first working with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and later on his own in the Cooperstown area. 

Raised in the Roman Catholic faith, he enjoyed occasionally attending the First Baptist Church of Cooperstown with Jan. 

Proud to be a military veteran, Jim was a faithful and dedicated member of the Clark F. Simmons American Legion Post No. 579 and the Sgt. Walter P. Eggleston Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7128 in Cooperstown, and active in the Otsego/Delaware Counties VFW organization. He often served with the VFW honor guard for special events and funerals, and most especially enjoyed the camaraderie with his fellow veterans at the Cooperstown Veterans Club; the place will not be the same without Jim’s presence.

Jim is survived by his wife of 45 years, Jan, of Cooperstown; a son, Patrick J. McGrath of Medina and spouse Julianne; a daughter, Sabina Stegmuller and spouse Martin of Leipzig, Germany; and grandchildren Fabian and Vincent Stegmuller of Germany and Makenzie, Jackson, Charlotte and Emmalynn McGrath of Medina. 

He is further survived by a brother, Frank McGrath (Ann) of Lyman, South Carolina; three sisters, Mary Margaret McGrath (David Kane) of Annapolis, Maryland, Helen Senmartin (George) of Belleville, New Jersey, and Ann Kane of Lititz, Pennsylvania; a sister-in-law, Grace McGrath of Florham Park, New Jersey; and their families. He is also survived by brothers-in-law John Jr (Iva), James (Roxana) and Joseph (Donna) Hurlburt, all of Otego, and their families. Jim’s first wife, Christa also survives. 

In addition to his parents, Jim was predeceased by three brothers, Joseph who died in infancy, John T. McGrath, Jr. who died November 16, 2008, and Thomas S. McGrath who died November 23, 2019. He is also predeceased by sister-in-law Janet McGrath (spouse of John) of Oneonta, brother-in-law, Jack Kane (spouse of Ann) of Pennsylvania, and parents-in-law, Jed and Jean Hurlburt of Otego. 

Friends are invited to pay their respects to Jim’s family from 3 – 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 30, 2023, in the Fellowship Hall at The First Baptist Church of Cooperstown, 21 Elm Street, Cooperstown.

At 4 p.m. a memorial service will take place in the Fellowship Hall at the church, with Pastor Mike Coles officiating. 

Military Honors will be rendered at the start of the service by members of the Clark F. Simmons American Legion Post No. 579, the Sgt. Walter P. Eggleston Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7128, and the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Elite Honor Guard. 

Memorial donations may be directed to Wounded Warrior Project or a charity of one’s choice. 

Arrangements are under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown. 

If you would like to send condolences to the family, send an email to Connell, Dow & Deysenroth. We will forward your comments to the family. If you would like to send flowers in memory of the deceased, contact Mohican Flowers at (607) 547-8822, or A Rose is a Rose at (607) 264-3100.