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Deacon William McGann, III - 1944~2023

Posted on June 01, 2023 in: News

Deacon William McGann, III - 1944~2023

Commander William H. (Bill) McGann III, 79, of Gales Ferry, Bill passed away peacefully of natural causes at Yale New Haven Hospital on May 30, 2023. He was visited in his final hours by his daughters Sarah and Amy and was attended by a Catholic chaplain. 

Bill was born on March 20, 1944, in Cincinnati, Ohio to William H. McGann Jr. and Mary Ann Fritz McGann. A graduate of Saint Augustine High School in San Diego, California, Bill went on to matriculate in the Class of 1966 at the University of Notre Dame, where he had a distinguished academic career in the School of Engineering and trained as a Midshipman in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC). In his final week at Notre Dame, Bill began dating Sheila Claire Brennan, a student at the neighboring St. Mary’s College in South Bend.  They were married on the Notre Dame campus in Sacred Heart Church.  Bill and Sheila have been married for almost 56 years, she survives him.

Bill served with distinction in the United States Navy for 26 years, earning the rank of Commander and the respect of all who served with him. Early in his career, he interviewed successfully with the legendary Admiral Rickover, the “Father of the Nuclear Navy,” and was admitted to the nuclear submarine force, serving on and eventually commanding Fleet Ballistic Missile class submarines after graduating from Nuclear Power School. He served his first tour on the USS George C. Marshall (Blue), continuing on to the USS Tullabee, as Navigator on the USS Cavalla, as the Executive Officer of the USS Skipjack, and finally as the Commander of the USS George Washington. At the end of his Naval career, Bill calculated that he has spent a full six years of his life submerged. Based for most of Bill’s career in the Navy town of Gales Ferry, CT, Bill and Sheila both played important roles locally during his time in uniform, caring for Navy families in need and setting an unimpeachable example of leadership and service to their country and their community.

Bill’s life was defined by service, as much after his career as in the course of it. He studied to become a Deacon in the Diocese of Norwich, was ordained in 2005, and served the congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes and the wider communities of Gales Ferry and Ledyard with a kind, thoughtful, and faithful approach to his work. Bill was a scholar at heart, and his deep understanding of the Catholic faith combined with his unrivaled experiences of life and leadership made him an exceptional Deacon. He brought this same scriptural knowledge and deft human touch to his work as a Catholic Chaplain at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, offering hope, solace, kindness, and consolation to countless patients and families. Bill retired for a second time from his volunteer duties in order to care full-time for his daughter Jenny, in partnership as always with his beloved wife.

Bill was also proud to be an active member with 30 years of continuous service with the Knights of Columbus. He was a 4th Degree Knight with an Honorary Life membership and served as Grand Knight and District Deputy. He also was a life member of Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine Council #7054.

Besides his loving wife Sheila, he is survived by daughters Jenny McGann, Commander Sarah McGann (USN) and her husband Scott Bell, Amy Geddes and her husband Tom Geddes, grandchildren Nathalia, Isaac, Lauren, Elizabeth and Evelyn, as well as siblings Patricia McGann, Geraldine McGann, Timothy McGann and his wife Kathy, and Dr. Kathleen McGann.

Visitation will be held Monday, June 5, 2023, from 9:30 am to 10:45 am immediately followed by an 11:00 am Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 1650 CT 12 in Gales Ferry. Full Military Honors will be rendered after Mass. The interment will be in Buffalo, NY.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bill’s honor to Navy Marine Corp Relief Society, Attention: Development, PO Box 25, Building 83, Submarine Base New London, Groton, CT 06349 or Diocese of Norwich Catholic Charities, 331 Main Street, Norwich CT 06360.

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