June 29, 2013

Feature obituary: George Mulcahy, 100, WWII veteran, avid golfer

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH - When George Mulcahy finally had the time to take up golf, he took it up in a big way.

George Mulcahy won golf tournaments in his 80s, shot his age, or lower, several times and got his first hole-in-one at age 92.

Courtesy photo

PASSAGES

Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.

Mr. Mulcahy, who died Thursday at 100, was one of the founding members of the Gorham Country Club. He golfed until he was 97, won club tournaments, shot his age several times and landed a spot in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" for winning the club's President's Cup tournament at the age of 84.

The club finally named a tournament for him and he won the inaugural "Mulcahy Open" in 2000, when he was 87, although his daughter Susan McKee of South Portland admited, "I think maybe they helped him a little bit."

Mr. Mulcahy was born in Fall River, Mass., and had to leave school to get a job after his father died of tuberculosis when Mr. Mulcahy -- the oldest of six children -- was 13.

His uncle got him a job in a textile mill and Mr. Mulcahy went to school at night to get his high school diploma.

With World War II on the horizon, Mr. Mulcahy was drafted and sent to Peaks Island, where the Army had set up a submarine lookout and harbor defense base. He put his drafting training to use drawing diagrams of the artillery pieces at the base.

Mr. Mulcahy saw combat in France, where his unit was part of Gen. George Patton's Third Army that raced across Europe in 1944. Assigned to map the position of German forces, Mr. Mulcahy flew in a fabric-covered spotter plane and joked that he "invented aircraft armor -- I sat on a piece of steel off a jeep."

He was also one of the soldiers who helped liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but like many of those who fought in WWII, he spoke little of his experiences, McKee said. On a rare occasion when he did, McKee said, her husband used a computer mapping program and had Mr. Mulcahy pick out the spots where he had been in France.

After the war, Mr. Mulcahy and his wife, Margaret -- whom he met while stationed on Peaks Island -- returned to Maine and dug clams for part of a year, then he got a job at Cook Box Co. in Westbrook, where he learned chemistry to help make the dyes for boxes. When that company closed, he went to work for Ellis Paper Goods in Portland and retired in the late 1970s.

Mr. Mulcahy was familiar with golf -- he had caddied at a club in Massachusetts in his teens to make money for his family, McKee said, and got a chance to golf in Scotland at St. Andrews, where the game was invented, when stationed in Great Britain before heading off to France.

"I think they only had three or four clubs among them," McKee said of her father and the soldiers who played at St. Andrews.

After the war, Mr. Mulcahy focused on raising his family, McKee said, but jumped at the chance to be one of the first members of GCC when it opened in the early 1960s.

Initially, he played on weekends, "but when he retired, he ended up playing a lot, like five or six times a week," she said.

"He was an excellent putter and he loved to win money off his friends," McKee said.

Mr. Mulcahy eventually became the club's oldest member.

"He outlived several foursomes (that he regularly played with) -- four that I know of," McKee said.

Eventually asked the join the "Over the Hill" group of the club's oldest members, Mr. Mulcahy declined.

"He didn't want to play with the old guys because they only bet a quarter a hole instead of a dollar and that wasn't enough incentive for him," McKee said.

In addition to winning tournaments in his 80s and shooting his age, or lower, several times, Mr. Mulcahy achieved another golf goal at 92 when he got his first hole-in-one.

He knew that tradition required him to buy drinks for everyone in the clubhouse.

Mr. Mulcahy told his daughter afterward, "I bought a pitcher of beer and made them use straws."

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com

 

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