Obituary: John F. McGrady, Jr., 1938 - 2024

McGrady Family •

On May 24, 2024, the world became a little less full. It is with deepest sadness that his children share John F. McGrady, Jr. has died. He was predeceased less than seven months ago by Pat, the love of his life and wife of 64 years. He was also predeceased by his son Patrick. Jack was born on October 15, 1938, to Clara (Larrabee) McGrady and John F. McGrady. He grew up on Nantucket and always considered the island his home even when he was stationed off island for his service in the Army or his position with the Massachusetts State Police.

Jack was a public servant who embodied excellence his entire working life. After graduating as valedictorian from Nantucket High School in 1956 he joined the United States Army. He finished his Noncommissioned Officers Academy in 1960 at the top of his class with the highest score of any graduate. While serving in the 1st Missile Battalion, 81st Artillery, Jack was chosen to be in the honor guard for President John F. Kennedy at his inauguration. He was proud to have served as a sergeant and to have been named Soldier of the Year for the United States Army in 1960, a distinction granted to only one soldier from a field of thousands. The Soldier of the Year is chosen based upon exemplary service and excellence in physical fitness, mental fitness, and dedication to duty.

Upon completion of his Army tour, he joined the Massachusetts State Police where he fully represented the motto, “To Protect and To Serve.” This was his goal from his high school days, and he was honored to wear the uniform of a Massachusetts State Trooper. No one ever looked better in the French and Electric blue. Jack excelled in his chosen career. His law enforcement was aimed at protecting the public. He made record drug arrests with the aim of keeping the drugs off the streets and away from young people. More than once talked someone down from shooting others or inflicting self-harm. He was a skilled negotiator and a calm presence in the midst of a crisis.

When he faced mandatory retirement as a Trooper, he joined the Nantucket Police Department as Deputy Chief where most of his work was in the courtroom and behind the scenes. Many of Jack’s closest friends were the lawyers and judges with whom he worked in the court system. The younger officers in the department looked up to him and learned from him. He was, as one friend put it, “a fount of knowledge and an entire history book.” Again, faced with mandatory retirement, he left the local police force to become a court officer where he served up to his last days.

Everybody knew Jack, whether it was through scouting, his active involvement in the schools, his participation in town meeting, his work as a police officer, his time as the police prosecutor, or just his trips to the Stop & Shop. No matter where he went, people stopped to talk to him. He always took the time to listen. He gave good advice, and he had answers. He was constant and compassionate. He joined the Boy Scouts of America when his son Patrick was a young boy to support him and the organization. Over time his commitment expanded to the point where he was scoutmaster for the island and oversaw improvements to the system and helped to save Camp Richard. Many on island remember him from these scouting days and are grateful for his contributions. This commitment to young people and their positive development extended from there. He was an avid supporter of the Nantucket Whaler Booster Club and advocated for the funding of girls' sports teams as well as boys’. Some islanders who are now in their 50s and 60s may remember him from the Officer Bill program or the drug awareness campaign in the schools.

As his adult children, we are reminded constantly of what a difference he made in the lives of other people. Countless people have told each of us that our Dad helped them assess their life choices and change their course for the better. Jack was a man who believed in hard work, doing your best, and second chances. He had the internal strength and courage of ten people. He was a tireless advocate for those in difficult circumstances. He was the embodiment of integrity. As his children, we will remember his love most of all. His family came first and he loved us all fiercely. Ask anyone, our Dad gave the best hugs. He was infinitely proud of his grandchildren and delighted to hear about everything they were doing. We have said this to each other and we share with you that he was the center; the center of our lives and our love.

Jack is survived by his children Pam, Patti, Jackie, and Sean, all of Nantucket. He is also survived by his grandchildren Jared, Erin, Jacob, Coleen, Kayla, JohnCarl, and Sarah. He is survived by his daughter-inlaw, Susan who he considered a fourth daughter, and a great-grandchild Isaac. He also is survived by his brother Bob of Nantucket, his sister Pat of Taunton, his nephew Bob of Hingham, and his niece Kathleen of Taunton. He will be interred with his wife at a private ceremony at a later date.

Contributions in his name may be made to A Safe Place on Nantucket. Jack believed in their advocacy and mission, and he was once their largest fundraiser. 

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