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Daniel L. McGrath


Daniel McGrath
Daniel McGrath

OTTAWA — Daniel Leo McGrath, a native son of Ottawa, left this world peacefully Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018.

Dan was born May 9, 1938, to Burdette and Anita Scherer McGrath at Ryburn-King Hospital in Ottawa. He attended St. Columba grade school and graduated from Marquette High School in 1956. Dan then served in the United States Army for two years.

He attended both St. Regis College in Denver, Colo., and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., before receiving his undergraduate degree from St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, and earned a master’s degree in education administration from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. 

Dan’s career included working at Third Appellate Court District in Ottawa, teaching history at Shepherd Middle School and working at Illinois Department of Education in Springfield under Michael Bakalis. In 1975, Dan and his family moved to Springfield, Va., where he was the chief of staff for Congressman Tim Hall. He continued his political career working for the administrations of presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton plus Congressman Harold Volkmer and Senator Paul Simon. Dan was driven to serve his fellow Americans and worked on important legislation with the Department of Agriculture, including the Alaska National Interest Conservation Act. He ran as the Democratic candidate for the House of Representative from the 14th district of Illinois in both 1982 and 1984. Although his career took him to Washington, D.C., Ottawa was always Dan’s hometown.

In his retirement, Dan enjoyed traveling, gardening, fishing and playing golf. In 2018, he retired from his summer job working at Twin Lakes golf course in Clifton, Va. He was a sports enthusiast and never missed the opportunity to watch his grandchildren play basketball, soccer and baseball. In addition, for the last 30 years he was a proud season ticket holder of the Georgetown University Hoyas Men’s Basketball team. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, Colleen (Robert) Bibbins and Anita (William) Carrier; and his brothers, Patrick (Denise) and Robert.

Surviving family include his beloved wife of 55 years, also a native of Ottawa, Janet Dobbs McGrath; sons, Patrick (Danielle), of Jacksonville, Fla., and Brendan (Karen), of Centreville Va.; daughter, Molly (Daniel) Mathus, of Lawrenceville, Ga.; nine grandchildren; brothers, James (Charlotte), of Ottawa, and Ralph (Diana), of Anchorage, Alaska; and many nieces and nephews.

Dan was known for his wisdom, guidance and generosity and will be missed by all. 

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