Catherine McGrath

Obituary of Catherine McGrath

Catherine "Kay" McGrath, 87, of Princeton died peacefully on Thursday at Princeton Hospital after a brief illness. She was born and raised in Boston, where her father, an Irish emigre, worked as a cement finisher and as an active labor leader, serving as the business agent for the American Brotherhood of Cement and Asphalt Workers. She graduated from Boston University. She was the founder and, for more than 20 years, the executive director of the Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, building the council with a $5,000 bank loan, the use of a borrowed brownstone in Trenton and only herself on the staff to a county-wide organization with more than 50 employees and million dollar budgets. The Council achieved a series of "firsts" in Mercer County with programs that emphasized prevention and early intervention as well as treatment. The Council established the first school-based drug education and counseling program, the first off-site employee assistance program, the first fetal-alcohol syndrome program and the first congregational assistance program. She also served on the Governor's Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and was founding director and past president of the New Jersey Alliance of Councils on Alcoholism, a statewide prevention network. She was an active member of the League of Women Voters and a lobbyist for the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association. In 1997, she served on the original Princeton Consolidation Study Commission, which studied and ultimately recommended the consolidation of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough. She lived in Princeton for 52 years. She was a regular guest columnist for The Times of Trenton and the host of a weekly radio program, "The Many Faces of Life" on WDVR. She was a recipient of the Princeton YWCA's "Tribute to Women in Industry" (TWIN) Award for leadership abilities, the Executive Service Award from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the Mary Mulholland "Volunteer of the Year Award" from the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the Market Leaders Award from the Times of Trenton, which wrote that "McGrath has always been known to roll up her shirt sleeves to get the job done" and that "McGrath has probably done more to raise community awareness about the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction, its prevention and treatment, than any other Mercer County resident." She was a loving wife and mother who pursued her passions vigorously throughout an active life. She was married to the late Thomas J. McGrath for 53 years. She is survived by her son Brian McGrath and his wife Dr. Carmen Paradis of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; daughter Maureen McGrath of Princeton; son Richard McGrath of Washington, D.C.; daughter Carol McGrath and her husband Alan Wood of Pennington; son Neal McGrath and his wife Jeong-Ju Ahn, and granddaughter Maura McGrath of Hong Kong. A mass of Christian burial will be held at Saint Paul's Church, 214 Nassau St. in Princeton, at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 7th. Friends may call at the Mathey-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Ave. in Princeton on Tuesday, December 6th from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Burial will be in Princeton Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, 447 Bellevue Avenue, Trenton N.J. 08618
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