Remembering George C. Monagan, Jr.

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of the passing of founding faculty member, Professor Emeritus and former Athletic Director George C. Monagan, Jr. George died unexpectedly on Friday, May 20 at age 79. Many of us are comforted in knowing that George gave the invocation at the 2005 Athletic Awards Banquet held on campus last week—providing us with one last opportunity to express our appreciation for his continued involvement in the life of Monroe Community College.

One of the college’s pioneers, George served the college community for 26 years, and remained involved as a volunteer for almost two decades into his retirement. George was a frequent guest on campus and remained enthusiastically involved in planning athletic, alumni and student scholarship events at the college. Regardless of weather conditions, George cheered on MCC Tribunes at home and away games.

Prior to joining Monroe Community College, George served our country as a World War II Navy veteran and our community as a teacher and coach at the Penfield Central School District (1950 to 1954) and as the athletic director at McQuaid Jesuit High School (1954 to 1962).

At MCC, George enjoyed many firsts. As one of the original 39 faculty members, George set up MCC’s physical education and athletic programs without facilities. When he needed a gymnasium to coach the men’s basketball team, he borrowed one from one of his many friends in the local athletic community. When a team needed a soccer field, he took his players to Cobbs Hill at night, where they lined up their cars and aimed their headlights at the field while they practiced. He was the first basketball coach to win three conference titles.

George served as faculty marshal for the college’s first commencement exercises at the Masonic Temple on East Main Street in 1964 and for every commencement for the next 26 years. He retired in 1988 as a professor of physical education and the college’s first athletic director—having created one of the nation’s most successful junior college athletic programs with 14 competitive teams. He also launched and coordinated MCC’s associate’s degree program in recreation leadership. The MCC Sports Hall of Fame display in the Stabins Physical Education Complex (Building 10) is a permanent reminder of how George built lasting traditions for the college community.

His election as the first president of the New York State University Junior Athletic Conference and participation in the Rochester Area Colleges Athletic Directors Organization are just two examples of George’s service to the regional athletic community. At the height of his career, he was regarded as one of the nation’s most knowledgeable experts in the field of recreational education.

He brought the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) to Monroe Community College in 1971—a program sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association that benefits financially-disadvantaged boys and girls, ages 10 through 16, by helping them learn the value of sportsmanship, team play and leadership. When the sports camp opens this July at the Brighton Campus, it will remind us of George’s commitment to our area’s youth.

In addition to his personal warmth, generous spirit and exceptional leadership skills, George had a gift for words. He was a former president of the Rochester Poets’ Society and his poetry was published in numerous journals. He used poetry to help the college community mourn the 1993 death of his dear friend Joseph Mancarella, professor of physical education and founding faculty member. George wrote a poem called “Time Out: A Tribute to Joe Mancarella,” for the man George regarded as one who “brought great honor to MCC.” George reunited with members of the Mancarella family at the Sports Hall of Fame banquet this past January.

In 1975 George’s friends and colleagues hosted a special tribute celebration in his honor. In its coverage of the event, Times-Union reporter Bruno Sniders said, “Few men in his field are more respected for their sincerity and devotion to the entire educational structure of the college.” That is but one example of the community’s recognition of a man who hired the most talented coaches available and gave them the freedom to maximize their potential and that of their players.

In 1977 George won the MCC Dr. Wesley T. Hanson Award for Excellence in teaching—an award that recognized his academic achievement and community service. He was inducted into the Rochester-Monroe County High School Athletes Hall of Fame in 1979.

The MCC Foundation also regarded George Monagan as a special friend and supporter. The endowed scholarship established in his and his wife’s name in 1996 recognizes those qualities personified by George himself: academic strength, superior athletic skill, leadership, team player and dedicated community servant. He continued his generosity by most recently contributing to Building on Success: The Campaign for Monroe Community College, in addition to contributing his time to help to plan reunion activities.

George Monagan was a dear friend to Monroe Community College. His presence will be greatly missed. His memory will be celebrated and honored for years to come.

Jennings, Nulton & Mattle Funeral Home, 1704 Penfield Rd. Wednesday and Thursday, 5–8 pm. The funeral mass will be held Friday at 10 am at St. Januarius Church, 180 N. Main St., Naples: interment, Oakwood Cemetery, Penfield.

George was predeceased by his wife Joan, in 2002 and is survived by four children, Ellen Monagan, Susan (William) Neubauer, George (Annie Martel) Monagan, Joanne (David) Dean; seven grandchildren, Emily, Luke, Katrina, Dave, Anastasia, Caileigh, and Olivia; sister, Patricia Pearson; and special friend, Ann Marie Johnson.

Contributions may be directed to the Joan & George Monagan Scholarship Fund, Monroe Community College Foundation, Damon City Campus, 228 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14604.

R. Thomas Flynn
MCC President