More Than One Moment in Time
by Cate Murway
Stumbles and failures may have assaulted the national self-esteem, but memories of Kennedy’s “Camelot” continue to give the country faith that its better days are ahead.
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills….” JFK, 1962
USN Lt. John Fitzgerald Kennedy's presidency lasted only 1,000 days but its historically significant course has impacted a half century, highlighted by the hope and potential ushered in with the inauguration. JFK grappled with controversial national issues and remains frozen in time at the age of 46, dying younger than any U.S. president to date. He was assassinated in Dallas, TX, at 12:30 pm on Friday November 22, 1963and grief for his death was universal. President John F. Kennedy [1917-1963], with his confidence and optimistic vision, a set of extraordinary skills and a great deal of charisma, had given people hope.
In 1960, "The Rights of Man" was the issue. On July 13, 1960 the Democratic Party nominated John F. Kennedy as its candidate for President and late USAF veteran, Charles Joseph “Chuck” McGrath, Jr., treasurer of the Bucks County Kennedy Campaign, used his clever, individualist mind to help support Kennedy as he traveled throughout the county, making public appearances and giving speeches. It was Chuck McGrath who arranged for JFK to make one of his stops be the Levittown Shopping Center.
The McGrath family was invited to the Inauguration but they were unable to attend.
USN Lt. James Albert Michener [1907-1997] wrote Chuck a letter, “extending his deepest personal thanks for helping Senator Kennedy to win the Presidency.” Michener was an author, public servant, patriot and philanthropist, and the Chairman of the Bucks County Democratic Committee in 1960. He also taught English at the George School in Newtown from 1933-1936.
Bristol Borough resident, Janine Marie [McGrath] LaRosa is quite proud of her father and his accomplishments that echoed unparalleled courage and generosity. “He was kind of like a Renaissance Man”. Janine proudly relates that her father was “all around civic minded” and always invested in helping the “under dog”.
“Able…Dedicated… It was a privilege to work with him.”
James A. Michener described Chuck McGrath in his book, “Report of the County Chairman”.
The family story is replete with traits of courage, integrity, compassion and honesty. All of Janine’s siblings are actively involved in their communities and interested in politics.
Janine is the youngest of the children, Mary Katherine “Kate”, Paul and Stephen who died as infants, the twins, Rosanne Mary and Charles Joseph “Chuck” III, Monica Regina and Thomas Liam, born to the late Mary Agnes [Gilligan] and Chuck McGrath.
Janine’s father came from a “very well read family” and he was a talented student, earning a scholarship to LaSalle College. His parents worked for the Penn Central Transportation Company, money was tight and he was unable to attend.
Chuck served in the Air Force at the end of WWII. During his military career, it was an ulcer that saved him from being sent to Los Alamos National Laboratory [LANL], the Trinity Test Site where they were preparing "the gadget", planning the development of the world’s first atomic bomb. On his return from action, he was awarded with the one widely noted benefit of World War II, the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act, or GI Bill. This enabled Chuck and his bride to purchase a home in Levittown where they became suburban-dwelling homeowners.
Civic-mindedness is one of the main pillars on which powerful communities are built, fostering values and conserving the signs of identity.
Chuck McGrath was a multi-tasking, engaged community member. He worked in the financial department of the PA RR while he held vital positions as the Judge of Elections and as a Bristol Township School Board Union Official, passionately involved in the comprehensive Head Start Program. He was also a most vocal advocate for the busing issues. He also instituted the Artists in Residence projects in the Bristol Township Schools. Chuck was a published author, too. His short stories and poems appeared in local newspapers and periodicals.
“Everything I do is a reflection of my dad. I learned at his knee.”
Janine earned a degree in History and she truly appreciates living in the historic town of Bristol. She is a former Pilot newspaper correspondent, a former BCHF Board member and the former President of St. Mark Home & School Association. She continues to volunteer at St. Mark and she and her sister, Monica currently serve on the Hospitality Committee.
“My mom’s life was us. She could match my dad wit for wit.”
Janine’s entire family is “involved with school, kids and politics and volunteer in some way, shape or form”.
Her husband, Samuel Lee LaRosa, BHS ‘82 and his family are all from Bristol.
Sam works in Research & Development at Dow Chemical, the company in the forefront of delivering innovative solutions to some of the world's toughest challenges. He also serves the community as St. Mark CYO Athletic Director. Sam is also the Chairman of the Bristol Borough Planning Commission.
His late father, Korean War Army veteran PFC Samuel Anthony LaRosa was employed at Kaiser-Fleetwings and the Purex Corporation. His mother, Barbara Ann [Barni] and her parents originally maintained a 17-acre fruit and produce and egg farm, including a stream, complete with chickens and pigs for the family’s usage. The Barni family had relocated from the Port Richmond area, another vibrant neighborhood with a deep and proud cultural history, where they had been proprietors of a bar and several restaurants.
Janine and Sam are modeling a well-balanced lifestyle. Sports and competition are great ways for children to learn teamwork, respect for authority, and sportsmanship and the four LaRosa children are well rounded students and athletes.
Samuel Anthony LaRosa, HGP ‘15 is a cross country/ track & field athlete, involved in Student Government, researching colleges in the Washington, D.C. area and preparing to pursue a degree in Political Science. John Charles “Jack” LaRosa HGP ‘17 is involved in golf, basketball, baseball, and track and sixth grader, Nicholas James “Nick” LaRosa, competes in basketball, soccer and baseball. Their daughter, Mary Lee LaRosa is a 5th grade Student Council member, involved in soccer, basketball and track.
Their extended family is equally involved, passionately patriotic and avidly interested in history.
The Corrigan clan includes soccer and lacrosse athletes, Lily, CEC ’17 and Molly CEC ’16, while seventh grade Annie participates in basketball, soccer, and track.
The McGrath siblings attend Bryn Athyn schools. Liam McGrath, ANC’16 competes in golf and lacrosse and he is earning his pilot’s license. Conor and Brett compete in golf and ice hockey; Emma Clare prefers tennis; and Todd is a 6 year old aspiring soccer player
Lt. Cpl Sean C. Johnson (USMC), just returned from the Middle East and SPC Thomas W. Evans (US Army), has been awarded a purple heart for his service in Afghanistan.
Janine was born years after Kennedy was assassinated, but her family’s joint involvement, shared memories and common interests hold such a claim to that Camelot, even five decades later.
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