James F. Garrity, 87, of West Chester, a former Chester County public school principal, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday, June 2, at Wellington at Hershey's Mill, a retirement community in East Goshen.

In a teaching career that included a year in Augsburg, Germany, Mr. Garrity was principal at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School from 1966 until he retired in 1985.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Garrity earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education in 1949 at what is now West Chester University, then took courses in elementary education there.

Mr. Garrity taught English at Upper Darby Senior High School in 1949-50, fifth grade at Highland Park School in Upper Darby from 1950 to 1954, and he taught art and was art supervisor for the township's elementary schools from 1954 to 1956.

Philip Maguire, a college friend, said that in the 1956-57 school year Mr. Garrity taught fifth-grade children whose parents were stationed in the military in Augsburg.

When he returned, he taught sixth grade at Stonehurst-Hills School in Upper Darby from 1957 to 1959.

Mr. Garrity took part-time evening classes at Villanova University in order to earn a master's degree in elementary administration in 1958.

Moving from Delaware County to Chester County, he taught sixth grade at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary from 1959 to 1962 before becoming its principal.

Mr. Garrity also had some artistic diversions.

While teaching, he wrote and directed three radio scripts produced on station WCOJ-AM in West Chester.

Among his papers, Maguire said, was a Playbill listing him in the cast of Meet the Wife, a 1953 summer production at Bucks County Playhouse.

Mr. Garrity is survived by grandnephew Jonathan Taylor; and grandniece Moria Taylor.

Visitation is from 9 a.m. Saturday, June 12, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church, 15 E. Pleasant Grove Rd., Westtown Township, before a 10 a.m. Funeral Mass there, with burial in Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.