The Obit For Jim McHugh

James McHugh, school coach
April 20, 2011
|By Sally A. Downey, Inquirer Staff Writer

James J. McHugh James J. McHugh, 83, of Ambler, a retired athletic director, teacher, and coach at Gwynedd-Mercy Academy elementary school, died of heart failure Friday, April 15, at home.

Mr. McHugh and his wife, Maria "Maisie" L. McHugh, met when they were attending Temple University, and married in 1954. That year, he took a position as a physical education teacher at the school, operated by the Sisters of Mercy. His wife taught physical education at Gwynedd-Mercy Academy High School.

Eventually, Mr. McHugh became athletic director at the elementary school, where he also coached sports including football, baseball, and basketball, and taught history. In the summer, he was director of Gwynedd-Mercy College Day Camp.

In 1991, the gym in the new wing of the elementary school was named the James J. McHugh Gymnasium in his honor. The principal at the time, Sister Rosemary Herron, said, "Jim embodied the true Mercy spirit by making it a priority to organize a sports program that allowed all children to participate, regardless of their skill level." He retired from Gwynedd Mercy in 1994.

Mr. McHugh grew up with eight younger siblings in Glenside. He graduated from Cheltenham High School, where he was a member of the baseball and wrestling teams. After one semester at Temple, he was drafted into the Army at the end of World War II and served in Japan.

He returned to Temple when he was discharged, but took spring semesters off to pursue his dream of becoming a professional baseball player.

After five years playing in the minor leagues, including Phillies farm teams, he returned to Temple full-time and earned a bachelor's degree. While teaching, he earned a master's degree in education from Temple.

He took his children to baseball games when they were young. Later, he imparted his knowledge of sports to his grandchildren and attended as many of their sports events as he could, his wife said.

Mr. McHugh enjoyed family vacations and considered it the trip of a lifetime when he visited Ireland in 1995 with his wife and brother and sister.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by daughters Katie McGreevy, Mary Pichola, Eileen Gray, Stacy Mauer, Joan Williams, and Beth Hadayia; a son, James Jr.; two sisters; a brother; and 14 grandchildren.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 20, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 259 Forest Ave., Ambler. Friends may call from 9. Burial will be in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Cheltenham.

Donations may be made to Gwynedd-Mercy Academy, 816 Norristown Rd., Spring House, Pa. 19477.