Managing cargo for United Airlines at Philadelphia International Airport involved significant responsibilities for Joseph S. McCaughey.
It meant dealing with "security procedures for cargo long before 9/11," a son, Michael, said Tuesday.
It meant handling musical instruments when the Philadelphia Orchestra went on tour.
And on one occasion, it meant safely securing whales being shipped to an aquarium.
On Sunday, May 19, Mr. McCaughey, 75, of Grenloch, United Airlines' station manager of cargo at Philadelphia International Airport at his retirement in 1994, died of complications of heart disease at Cooper University Hospital.
After retiring, his son said, Mr. McCaughey worked for about four years as a consultant at United's headquarters in Chicago, living there for several months each year.
He began his United career in 1958 by cleaning the insides of airplanes and, his son said, "he grew with United.
"He had a passion for flying and for making sure that people got their belongings."
Born and raised in Fairmount, Mr. McCaughey was a 1955 graduate of Southeast Catholic High School and studied meteorology at what is now St. Joseph's University.
Before joining United, he worked briefly as a fireman on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
During his United career, Mr. McCaughey worked on projects in Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, and London.
"Most of that had to do with security procedures for cargo," his son said. The work involved "whole binders on terrorists."
Mr. McCaughey would be "out of town for probably about four to five weeks at a time" on such projects.
"He was a warm-weather person," his son said, "and he would visit golf courses all around the world" in his free time because of his airline privileges.
"As a family, we were able to fly on United," too, most memorably in 1995 on a monthlong trip through England, Ireland, and Scotland.
Mr. McCaughey not only earned several performance trophies from United, but also a citation from an Air Force lieutenant general in the Air Mobility Command, "for outstanding support during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield," in 1990 and 1991.
Besides his son, Mr. McCaughey is survived by former wife Catherine, son Joseph, daughter Christine Lopane, two brothers, three sisters, and three grandchildren.
A viewing was set from 10 a.m. Friday, May 24, at Holy Family Church, 226 Hurffville Rd., Sewell, N.J. 08080, before an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass there, with burial in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Berlin.
Donations may be made to the church.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.mcgfuneral.com.