George J. McHugh III, 78, of Berwyn, an inventor and company owner, died of apparent heart failure Monday at his home.

Early in his career, Mr. McHugh worked in the construction industry and in sales and marketing for plumbing companies. In the late 1970s, while working for Milwaukee Valve Corp., he helped develop a slow-close valve used in fire sprinkler systems.

In the mid-1980s, he established AGF Manufacturing in Malvern and developed the Testandrain valve, which has been installed in sprinkler systems throughout the world, his son George IV said. He was very creative, his son said, and was responsible for 40 AGF patents.

Mr. McHugh believed in hiring the handicapped, his son said, and mentally challenged workers package AGF parts at the Cardinal Krol Center in Springfield, Delaware County. Though George IV and another son, James, now run AGF, Mr. McHugh stayed involved in the firm and was in the office last week, his son said.

Mr. McHugh grew up in Overbrook Park. His father, James Jr., was a bandleader and radio personality, and Mr. McHugh inherited a love of jazz and swing. After graduating from St. Joseph's Preparatory School, he earned a bachelor's degree from St. Joseph's University. During the Korean War, he served in the Army.

In 1954, he married Sally Ann Goodman, and the couple had four children. She died in 1992. He married Virginia Keleher in 2004.

In addition to his wife and sons, Mr. McHugh is survived by daughters Kathy Cote and Honey; stepchildren Joanne DeMenna and Jim, David and Peter Keleher; and 17 grandchildren.

Friends may call from 9 to 10 a.m. today at Donohue Funeral Home, 3300 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square. A Mass will follow at 10:30 a.m. at St. John Neumann Church, 380 Highland Ave., Bryn Mawr. Burial will be in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple Township.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.