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Stephen McGrath, Quincy Human Resources Director, dies at 59

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  August 12, 2013 01:04 PM

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Stephen McGrath, Quincy’s Director of Human Resources, died after a sudden illness at Boston Medical Center on Friday. He was 59.

McGrath has long been a pillar of the Quincy's city administration, most recently serving in the Human Resources Department at Quincy City Hall for six years.

“I am heartbroken,” said Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, who appointed McGrath as the Human Resources Director in 2007. “Steve McGrath was a remarkable public servant who dedicated his life's work to the city he loves.”

City officials say he leaves behind a lasting legacy.

“To those who knew him well, Steve was … a loyal friend, mentor, and loving husband, brother and uncle," Koch said in a statement. "His sharp wit, love of history and politics, and his passion for life were truly wonderful gifts that his friends and loved ones will always cherish."

McGrath was a practicing attorney in the city until he was elected as Ward 5 City Councilor. He served as president of the council from 1986-1987, and in 1987 was elected Councilor-At-Large.

Though he ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 1989, his opponent James Sheets named McGrath the city solicitor after the election. He would hold that position for 12 years.

“I used to always tell him, and he knew it, that he was a mentor to me,” City Solicitor Jim Timmins said of his predecessor. “What I learned from him primarily was that he never got upset about things, and he always made sure he engaged the councilors if there was an issue. He’s better on both those counts than I am, but he’s a role model for me.”

McGrath took a break from city politics until he returned to city hall in 2007, appointed by Koch as the Human Resources Director.

“I call him the political anchor for the mayor,” Timmins said. “… He was a real history buff, and he really loved politics. When you combine the two of those things, he had a wealth of knowledge and he could call on prior events that had occurred and help us shape a strategy for something that was going on at the time.”

McGrath also served as Legal Counsel at Quincy College and was the former Director of Development at Archbishop Williams High School.

McGrath had numerous degrees, including a diploma from Archbishop Williams High (Class of 1971), Boston College (Class of 1975) and Suffolk Law School (Class of 1978).
“What I remember Steve for, and I think everyone else will, is that he was a real class act, whether it was the way he dressed with his suspenders or the way he carried himself. He was unfailingly gracious to everyone,” Timmins said.

McGrath leaves behind many family members, including wife E. Jane (Madden) McGrath, to whom he was married for 19 years; brother David McGrath and his wife, of Connecticut; and sister Pat McGrath and her partner of New Hampshire.

He is also survived by uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, several cousins and close friends.

A funeral service will be held at St. Ann’s Church on Hancock Street on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.

Visiting hours will be held at the Bolea-Buonfiglio Funeral Home in Quincy on Tuesday from 4 p.m. till 8 p.m. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, family members ask that donations be made in McGrath’s memory to Servants of Christ Ministries in Scituate.

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