Frank J. McGettigan, 87, formerly of Drexel Hill, a retired architect, died of heart failure Dec. 9 at Halifax Hospital in Port Orange, Fla.

Mr. McGettigan grew up in Brewerytown in Philadelphia. He was on the track team at Roman Catholic High School and participated in the Penn Relays.

After graduating from Roman, he was a draftsman at Cramp's Shipyard in Philadelphia and took courses at Temple and Villanova Universities and Swarthmore College.

During World War II, he served in the Navy in the South Pacific. After his discharge, he worked as a draftsman while earning a bachelor's degree in architecture at night from Drexel University. He later lectured to architecture and engineering students at Drexel.

In 1949, Mr. McGettigan joined the architectural firm of T. Norman Mansell, which became Mansell, McGettigan & Fugate. The Philadelphia firm built churches and municipal and educational buildings in the area, including the pharmaceutical school at Temple.

In the late 1960s, he became a partner with the engineering firm of Jordan, McGettigan & Yule. Several years later, he and his son-in-law Robert C. Becker established a firm specializing in residential design and renovations. They had offices in Drexel Hill and in Somers Point, N.J., and designed many Shore homes.

Mr. McGettigan and his wife, Kathleen Sweeney McGettigan, raised eight children in Havertown and Drexel Hill. He designed their beachfront home in Strathmere, N.J. The house survived the devastating nor'easter of 1962, which destroyed several neighboring homes, their daughter Dee Conallen said.

After retiring in the early 1980s, Mr. McGettigan lived on a houseboat in Florida in the winter for five years before moving to Port Orange. He spent summers with family in the Philadelphia suburbs.

A talented artist and sculptor, Mr. McGettigan was a member of the Philadelphia Sketch Club. He enjoyed music, philosophy, golf and fishing. He pursued a lifelong passion for learning, his daughter said, and used his engineering background to patent several inventions, including a "dial-a-fish." The hand-held device indicates which bait, hook, line, and sinkers should be used under various conditions.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. McGettigan is survived by daughters Kathleen Scoboria, Mary Anne Becker-Sheedy, Susan Moock, Patricia Harkins, Nancy Paterni; sons John and Michael; a sister; 26 grandchildren; and 28 great-grandchildren. His wife died in April.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church, 3500 School Lane, Drexel Hill, for which in the 1950s Mr. McGettigan drew the plans for redesign and renovation. Friends may call at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon.

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