Passing of member Irene McGrath at age 97

Posted on November 12th, 2017

November 12, 2017

Hall of Fame’s Irene McGrath passes away at age 97 with family at her side

World Drum Corps Hall of Fame member Irene McGrath passed away at age 97 at the Episcopal Home in Rochester, New York at 4:15 am, Friday November 10, from complications of pneumonia and heart failure, with children Patricia, William, Thomas and Shirley at her side. In 2000, she became the third member of her family inducted into the Hall of Fame. Her late husband Bill McGrath, Sr. was inducted in 1985 and son Bill McGrath, Jr. was inducted in 1994.

Visitation will be held Monday November 13 and Tuesday November 14 from 4 to 8 at Vay-Schleich & Meeson Funeral Home, 1075 Long Pond Road, Rochester. Her funeral mass will be celebrated Wednesday, November 15 at St. Thomas The Apostle Church, 4536 St. Paul Boulevard, Rochester. Internment will follow in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame scholarship fund may be made in her memory. For more information or to sigh the guestbook, visit

Her involvement in drum corps activity started by supporting her husband’s service in the United States Army Air Corps Drum and Bugle Corps. He was the Acting Commander and Drum Major of the 344th Training Division, Army Air Corps Drum and Bugle Corps of Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma in 1943 and ‘44.

After World War II, her efforts turned to helping her husband in his position as director of the Barnard Blue Devils of Greece, New York from 1949 to 1961. She was the secretary and assistant business manager of that competitive field unit and business manager of the Tournament of Champions, sponsored by the Barnard Blue Devils, in 1956 and ‘57 and the 1958 North American Open, sponsored by Rochester Crusaders. In 1955, she was recording secretary and vice president in the organizing and implementing of the Western New York Judges Association.

Later, she turned her efforts to helping the Point Pleasant Cadets/Emerald Cadets and Emerald Statesmen. Husband Bill was director of this unit: she was business manager and publicity director: all five of her children were in this junior corps. As business manager, she represented this competition corps in Penn-York and New-York-Canadian Association circuit meetings. She was also the business manager, publicity director and tabulator for the annual Sound-Off shows sponsored by the Emerald Cadets from 1960 to 1969. She was the assistant chairman of the Emerald Cadet Bingo Games from 1962 to 1969 and was the banquet chairman for the Emerald Cadets from 1958 to 1969.

She was also a staff writer for Drum Corps World from 1958 to 1965. She was a tabulator for the All American Judges Association from 1961 to 1973, the New York Canadian Association from 1962 to 1971 and the Penn–York Circuit from 1962 to 1968. She served as a secretary, tabulator and business manager for the color guard judges’ chapter known as Competitive Instructors Association from 1970 to 1974. She was the commander of the International Color Guard Circuit from 1965 to 1975 and chaired all the circuit meetings, coordinated the business for the organization and organized its annual championship competition.

When her husband succumbed to blindness in 1994 she assisted him as treasurer of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame from 1994 to 2001. She was treasurer for two of the Hall of Fame cruises. She was one of the original members and organizers of the Empire Statesmen Senior Drum and Bugle Corps of Rochester, New York in 1983.

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