Thomas J. McGinley Sr.—Heir to a Golden Age in Steeler History
Tom McGinley was born to Jack and Marie (Rooney) McGinley, the third of six children on February 20,1947—shortly after his father earned a Purple Heart when his amphibious ship was bombed in the English Channel during the Normandy invasion. Had Tom’s father not survived, history as we know it today would be much different.
As a boy, Tom enjoyed summers with his Laughlin and Rooney cousins at the Loyalhanna cottages in Ligonier. They enjoyed endless games of football and baseball together—in between dips in the creek. The relationships Tom developed with his Laughlin and Rooney cousins during those years lasted throughout his life.
Tom attended Central Catholic High School, graduating in 1965. From there he went to The University of Dayton, where he met his first wife, Gretchen Weimar.
As a young man, Tom worked for both of his family’s relatively new businesses—the Pittsburgh Steelers and Wilson-McGinley, Inc. He was a ball boy for the Steelers during the late 1960s, where his responsibilities included chauffeuring his Uncle Art Rooney and assisting the players at Steelers’ camp. These experiences gave him a front row seat to observe history in the making.
While at the University of Dayton, Tom became friends with Eddie DeBartolo, of Youngstown, Ohio. At the time, Eddie’s father was responsible for the development of many of the country’s first shopping malls, a business that was enormously successful. Tom fondly remembered Eddie driving him to parties in his Mustang convertible. Eventually, Tom took Eddie to a Steelers game at Forbes Field and introduced him to his uncle, Art Rooney. Eddie was impressed by Tom’s Steeler family and years later convinced his father to help him purchase the San Francisco 49ers—a team that had nearly as good a run in the 80s as the Steelers did in the 70s.
Tom married Gretchen Weimar in 1970 and shortly thereafter had two children, Tom Jr. and Amy. Tom and Gretchen raised their children in Chatham Village in Mount Washington. Tom had many friends in the community, and often enjoyed summer evening tennis matches with his neighbors and rarely missed a daily hitting round with his daughter. As a devout Catholic, Tom never missed an opportunity to visit a church with his children to light a candle and say a prayer. Outside every church, Tom would leave behind his cigar, only to retrieve it on his way out—a trademark he was known for most of his adult life.
Tom and Gretchen maintained close ties with their friends from The University of Dayton, meeting every July for a seaside vacation—initially in Seaside Heights, NJ and later in Hilton Head, SC. This tradition continued into recent years, with two additional generations in tow.
After working for the Steelers, Tom pursued a brief career teaching and then working for Allegheny County before joining the family’s Miller beer wholesaler, Wilson-McGinley, Inc. Tom held positions in both sales and operations before his retirement.
In 1997, Tom married his second wife, Laura Wood McGinley, of Sewickley, PA. They were blessed with their daughter Abby McGinley. Abby was the apple of his eye and he enjoyed attending her school and athletic events.
In 2014, Tom began to experience significant health issues, but overcame the incredible odds and ultimately gained a new appreciation for life. He made it a goal to create as many happy memories as possible and took his children and grandchildren on a number of memorable family vacations to Hilton Head and Florida.
Tom spent the last several years of his life cared for by a wonderful assistant, Aaron Lownie, between homes in St. Petersburg, FL and Laughlintown, PA.
No matter where Tom was, his love and appreciation for the Steelers and the memories he had of growing up during the team’s golden years endured.
We know that Tom is up in heaven with his parents and brothers, Mike and Jimmy, along with so many other deceased family members and friends—likely discussing who the Steelers should draft this weekend. His gentle demeanor, smile and infectious laugh will be missed by all who knew him.
Tom was predeceased by his parents, Jack and Marie, as well as brothers Mike and Jim. He is survived by siblings, Jack, Barney (Denise), and Mary (John) along with his children, Tom Jr. (Liz), Amy McGinley Bell (Drummond), and Abby McGinley as well as five adoring grandchildren.
Friends will be received at John A. Freyvogel Sons, Inc. (freyvogelfuneralhome.com) 4900 Centre Avenue at Devonshire Street on Friday April 29, 2022 from 3-7p.m. Funeral Saturday, Mass of Christian Burial, St. Mary Magdalene Parish, St. Bede Church at 10a.m.
Remembrances may be made to the Ronald McDonald House Charities (rmhc.org)