William C. McConaghy, 82, of Newtown Square, the third-generation owner-operator of the McConaghy Funeral Home in Ardmore, died Monday, Aug. 26, of respiratory failure at Bryn Mawr Hospital. He was a former resident of Villanova.

Mr. McConaghy came from a long line of funeral directors. His grandfather, also named William, founded the funeral business in a Victorian house at the corner of Wyoming and Lancaster Avenues in 1894.

After he died in 1949, Mr. McConaghy’s father, John T. McConaghy, took over the business. In 1950, after a fire, John McConaghy razed the old funeral parlor and built a new one.

Mr. McConaghy assumed control of the business and incorporated it in 1978 as the William C. McConaghy Ltd. Funeral Home. His sons, John J. and Christopher C. McConaghy, are the fourth generation to own and operate the business.

The Ardmore house in which Mr. McConaghy's grandfather established the family funeral business in 1894. It was razed in 1950 and replaced with a new facility.
Courtesy of the McConaghy Family
The Ardmore house in which Mr. McConaghy's grandfather established the family funeral business in 1894. It was razed in 1950 and replaced with a new facility.

Born to Joan Marie Crane McConaghy in Bryn Mawr Hospital, he graduated from Malvern Preparatory School in 1954. He attended Villanova University before graduating from the Eckels College of Mortuary Science in 1957.

Mr. McConaghy enlisted in the Army in 1958. Because of his funeral-service background, he was assigned to Arlington National Cemetery, where he assisted the families of veterans with funeral planning and scheduling. He was honorably discharged in 1960 with the rank of specialist E-4.

In 1963, he met Carol Hart at, “of all places,” a funeral for her grandmother that was being held at the McConaghy Funeral Home, the family said. They were married in 1964 and raised four children in Ardmore and then Villanova.

“The best thing he ever did was to marry Carol Hart,” the family said in a eulogy. “They were together for 55 years, sharing everything.”

When John T. McConaghy died in 1965, Mr. McConaghy assumed control. Business was brisk. As a result, the words “Funeral arrangements by William C. McConaghy Ltd.” appear at the end of hundreds of obituaries in newspaper archives.

As he counseled grieving clients, he was calm, fair, and every bit a gentleman. “We never heard him raise his voice,” his family said.

Mr. McConaghy stayed involved in the business until several years ago, when his health began to decline. After experiencing heart problems in the late 1980s, Mr. McConaghy consulted a doctor who told him to exercise.

“He walked daily and became a fixture on the Villanova campus, where he would chat up any of the Augustinian brothers or check out whatever teams were practicing in the Villanova stadium,” his family said.

Mr. McConaghy was an avid fan of Villanova basketball. He attended the 1971 NCAA Final Four in which the Wildcats lost to UCLA in the championship game, 68-62. In 1985, he was there with his three sons to see the Wildcats beat Georgetown for the national championship, 66-64. It was their first national title.

A devoted family man, he looked forward to spending time with his eight grandchildren. “Seeing them was a joy that really kept him going the last couple of years,” the family said.

In addition to his wife, sons, and grandchildren, he is survived by a daughter, Erin M. O’Hara; a son, Brian H., who is an assistant in the funeral home; a brother; and a sister.

A 10:30 a.m. Funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday, Aug. 30, at St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the Villanova University campus, 800 Lancaster Ave., where Mr. McConaghy was a member. Interment will be private.

Memorial donations may be made to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis Tenn. 38105, or the Wounded Warrior Project, Box 758516, Topeka, Kan. 66675.