FRANCIS JOSEPH (MAC) MCGRATH
Feb. 6, 1922 - Feb. 1, 2013
Francis Joseph (Mac) McGrath of Imperial, CA passed away peacefully in La Jolla, CA after a short illness on February 1, 2013, 5 days before his 91st birthday. He lived a full life that included flying P-38's to crop dusters, racing jalopies, micro midgets, Navion airplanes and a Porsche Speedster. All the while, he provided an exciting and wonderful family life for his children, and was a good friend to all. He was adept at woodworking, playing musical instruments, writing poetry and he appreciated classical literature and loved Shakespeare.
Mac was born on February 6, 1922 in Pocatello, Idaho to Frank and Florence McGrath. His older brother Dan and younger brother Bill completed the tight knit family that struggled after their father's death when Mac was six. The small family, along with Florence's mother, settled in the Seattle, Washington area where Mac and his brothers attended local public schools. In the eighth grade, Mac and his brother Bill were sent to a Catholic boarding school. Mac said that year was a great experience that taught him discipline, and he credited that one year for his future excellent grades in public schools.
In March of 1942, he entered the Aviation Cadet program in the Army Air Corps. Upon completion of the Cadet program, he was sent to Ontario, California for flight training in P-38's. It was here where he met his future wife, June Maxwell. They dated until May of 1943 when he was sent overseas. He flew 51 missions during World War II, mainly in North Africa, but also in Sicily and Italy.
After he returned to the States, he sent for June and they were married in June of 1944 in Seattle, Washington. He was relocated to Hawaii, during which time his daughter, Jean, was born in April of 1945.
When he was discharged in December of 1945, he trained to be an Aircraft and Engine Mechanic in Glendale, CA. He saw an ad for a licensed mechanic by a crop dusting company in Imperial, CA. Mac, June and Jeannie moved to Imperial in May of 1947, where they parked their trailer in back of the Imperial Hotel. The temperature the day they arrived was 110 degrees. The owners of the crop dusting company soon discovered that he was a pilot and it wasn't long before he began what was to be a 40 year career as a crop dusting pilot.
Mac and June had two sons, Patrick (1948) and Dennis (1950) and settled into their new home in Imperial in 1952. The couple raced jalopies at the local fairgrounds and the family took numerous trips around the United States and Mexico in their Navion, with Mac piloting the plane.
June passed away in 1964 after a 5 year illness. Mac married Patricia Reinstra and added her two young sons, Roy and Joe Mobbs to the McGrath family in 1966.
After retiring from crop dusting in 1985, Mac kept busy with an Imperial Valley Press newspaper route until his failing eyesight restricted his driving. He could then be seen riding his three-wheeler bicycle to the market, post office and to his Church, St. Anthony's of Padua Parish, in Imperial, on Sundays.
A few years after Patty's death in early 2006, Mac's stepson Roy moved in with him to prepare meals and assist him. Mac looked forward to 4 p.m. each day when Louie Baker would give him a ride to the Moose Lodge to enjoy friends and have a couple of beers. He enjoyed his frequent visits by his children and grandchildren, which always included lunch dates at Celia's.
Mac was preceded in death by his and June's infant son, Michael Francis; June McGrath; second wife Patricia McGrath; grandson Thomas McGrath Ready; daughter-in-law Kristin; and brother Dan. Mac is survived by his brother Bill (Maxine) of Portland, Oregon, children Jean Froning (Otis) of San Diego, Patrick of Hawaii, and Dennis (Lonnie) of San Diego. He is also survived by his stepsons Roy (Imperial) and Joe (San Diego), seven grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and numerous adoring nieces and nephews.
There will be a private family graveside service in La Verne, CA (3201 North "B" St., La Verne) on Monday, February 11 at 11 a.m. Friends and family are invited to the Moose Lodge on Saturday, February 16 at noon for a Celebration of Mac's Life, 2310 Myrtle Road, Imperial, CA 92251.