Joseph Francis McElwee Jr., 87, of Berwyn, president of United Machine & Tool, died of esophageal cancer at home Tuesday, April 22.
Mr. McElwee, who attended Roman Catholic Mass daily, devoted his life to his late wife of 60 years, Therese; their 14 children; 47 grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and his faith, daughter Donna Marie said. "He loved his family and always wanted his faith to be front and center," she said.
Mr. McElwee attended St. Matthias Grade School in Bala Cynwyd and graduated from St. Joseph's Prep in 1944. Enlisting in the Navy, he served on the USS Carter as a petty officer third class. He was honorably discharged in June 1946.
In 1950, he graduated from St. Joseph's College and briefly worked for Publicker Industries in Philadelphia. He later worked for his father at United Machine & Tool and became president, creating a successful industrial valve and pump-repair business.
His clients were scattered between New York City and Washington, and his company repaired boilers at universities and ships at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, Marie said. He had about 50 employees at the peak and was still conducting business from his home the day he died, she said.
Mr. McElwee married the former Therese Pereyra, a registered nurse, on Oct. 3, 1953, after being introduced by a relative. They raised their family in Merion and attended St. Matthias Church.
Mr. McElwee was active in several parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and at St. Joseph's College, served on the Archdiocesan Human Rights Commission, and volunteered as a teacher at the Dennis Comey Institute of Industrial Relations at St. Joe's for 40 years. He also coached Amateur Athletic Union and Catholic Youth Organization Girls Basketball.
Marie said Mr. McElwee "performed countless acts of religious devotion and charity," visiting the sick and attending 40-hour devotions. He helped raise money for St. Joseph University's Navajo reservation service trips and for Fresh Start Surgical Gifts.
Mr. McElwee also was a member of the Knights of Columbus Catholic Men's Fraternity and a fan of all things Jesuit, especially St. Joseph's men's basketball team.
He founded McElwee Consulting in the late 1980s, conducting motivational workshops and offering tips on how to prepare for job interviews and business presentations. "He taught people to have a positive attitude and to stand up straight and to follow etiquette," Marie said.
The family vacationed in Avalon, N.J., where he would mimic Jimmy Durante and sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" as he led the family's annual Fourth of July parade. For 21 years, he did that, serenading neighbors and paying special tribute to veterans.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. McElwee is survived by sons Joseph F. III, Michael, Martin, John, William, and Thomas; daughters Therese McElwee, Grace Ann Coleman, Lisanne M. Balady, M. Noelle Hildreth, and Rosemarie Console; two sisters; 43 grandchildren; and four great-grandsons. He was predeceased by two children, Gerald A. and Mary Carol.
A viewing will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, April 28, at St. Norbert's Church, 50 Leopard Rd., Paoli. A Funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m., and interment will follow in Calvary Cemetery in Conshohocken.
Contributions may be made to the Paulist Press, 997 MacArthur Blvd., Mahwah, N.J. 07430, care of Therese Book Distribution Project - Fr. William Byron, S.J.