James J. McGovern of Buffalo died Tuesday at Buffalo VA Medical Center following a brief illness. He was 95.
Born in Lackawanna, he had fond memories of Monsignor Nelson Baker when he attended Our Lady of Victory Grammar School and High School.
Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor Mr. McGovern left his job at the steel plant and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. From 1943 to 1945 he served as a heavy machine-gunner and participated in four invasions: Roi-Namur, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima. He earned and individual citation for bravery from his unit commander and his division and two Presidential Unit Citations for "outstanding performance in combat during the seizure of the Saipan and Tinian."
After returning from the war, Mr. McGovern worked for several local contractors. He served for 20 years as president of Local 45 of the Bricklayers & Allied Craftsmen and was later elected Business Agent for several terms. He was asked to serve in Washington D.C. as the Executive Director of the National Refractory Committee by the International Union of Brick layers & Allied Craftsmen and held that office for seven years before retiring.
During his career Mr. McGovern attended the Erie County Technical Institute, the Labor College, Diocese of Buffalo, Canisius College Adult Education programs and Cornell University School of Industry and Labor Relations. He was inducted into the New York State Assembly's Labor Roundtable Hall of Fame.
He spent his retirement years in both Buffalo and Florida, and traveled to Ireland several times with his wife to visit family. He was also an avid golfer.
Mr. McGovern was predeceased by his wife of 73 years, Joan Dorr, and is survived by three daughters Maureen Mauri, Kathleen Hermann and Mary Colleen Pudlewski; son Peter, nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial was offered in St. Leo the Great Church, Amherst.