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Joseph W. Mahoney Jr., 58, executive vice president of Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

A man greatly respected for his passionate commitment to the region and his high integrity

JOE MAHONEY liked nothing better than to chill out at his condo in Stone Harbor, N.J., where he could escape the pressures of his role as an executive of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

"He could relax there and do what he wanted to do," said his wife, the former Patricia McElwee. "He wasn't always able to do that here."

Joe wasn't a beach person; he didn't fish or boat. But the salubrious sea air and sun of the small beach community lent the right atmosphere for taking it easy.

Joseph W. Mahoney Jr., executive vice president of the chamber, a job in which he oversaw public-policy activities at the federal, state and local level on a city and regional basis, a man highly respected for his passion, drive and integrity, died of a heart attack Thursday. He was 58 and lived in Bryn Mawr.

"It was a very big shock," said his wife, who took her husband to Bryn Mawr Hospital when he returned home from work and said he wasn't feeling well. He died at the hospital. "He had not been sick at all."

Pat said she has been inundated by messages of sympathy from every quarter.

"People looked up to him and respected him," she said. "He was generous, humble, wonderful. He was my best friend."

"Joe cared passionately about our city and region," Mayor Nutter said. "Whatever the issue, Joe would often be the first to lend a hand or give an opinion. He worked hard every day on behalf of the business community, cared greatly about city policies and always gave of his time to make things better for all of us."

Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive Rob Wonderling said, "The passing of Joe Mahoney is a tremendous loss to the city and region. Joe made a difference in the lives of so many people throughout our community. He loved Philadelphia, and will be greatly missed by all who had the honor to know him."

Just last week, Joe was master of ceremonies for Saint Joseph's University's Hall of Fame dinner. He showed no evidence of slowing down.

He and his wife were big supporters of the university and its alumni association. They were classmates at the school; she studied food marketing while he majored in political science. They were friends at the time, but didn't marry until 19 years ago after they met again at a function.

Together, they opened Brooks Gift Gallery in Drexel Hill. She ran the shop, while he was in the background, taking care of the office end of it.

"I'm going to miss him there," his wife said. "I'm going to miss him everywhere."

Joe was chairman of the board of visitors of the university's Haub School of Business, and he and his wife are credited with raising thousands of dollars for the university.

Charles P. Pizzi, former president of the chamber of commerce who hired Joe in 1990, told the Inquirer: "I would tell you there is nobody who had better, stronger core values, high, high integrity, and always helped a number of people.

"It was never about him. It was always about the issue, and he never got in the way of elected officials. Everything I got credit for in 13 years at the chamber, it was because of the work he did."

Joe was known as the guy who knew whom to call to get things done.

He was born in West Philadelphia, the eldest of the three sons of Joseph W. Mahoney Sr. and Edna Mahoney. The family moved to Bala Cynwyd, and he attended Archbishop Carroll High School before moving on to St. Joe's.

Joe had a varied background before he joined the chamber. He was an administrative specialist with the FBI in Washington, concentrating on counterintelligence operations.

He then served eight years on the staff of former U.S. Rep. Lawrence Coughlin, the Montgomery County Republican from the 13th Congressional District.

He was Coughlin's campaign manager in the 1982 primary campaign, his representative for constituent outreach and administrative assistant based in Washington.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his mother, and two brothers: the Rev. Shaun Mahoney and Dennis Mahoney.

Services: Funeral Mass 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Saint Joseph's University Chapel. Friends may call at 6 p.m. tomorrow at the Stretch Funeral Home, 236 E. Eagle Rd., Havertown.