An 'Extraordinary Life' Lived: Miles Mac Mahon Passes Away at Age 89

SUMMIT, NJ - Miles Desmond Mac Mahon of Summit passed away peacefully at his home March 24 surrounded by his loving family at the age of 89.
Dr. Mac Mahon lived an extraordinary life. He has been active since his early teens when he worked running sugar manifests from the sugar exchange at 120 Wall Street. He dropped out of high school to join the war effort in WWII. He was probably the only high school dropout who achieved both a B.S., M.S. and PhD before finally getting his high school diploma.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend the visitation from 4-8 PM on Tuesday, March 29th at the Paul Ippolito Summit Memorial, 7 Summit Ave, Summit. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, March 30th at St. Teresa of Avila Church, Morris Ave, Summit. Interment will be held privately.
Born in Brooklyn to the late Oswald and Mary Frances Mac Mahon; Miles has been a resident of Summit since 1960. He was a member of the National Guard before joining the United States Merchant Marines as a Radio Operator serving during World War II and later with the United States Army as a Sargent until his honorable discharge.  

His first career was as a radio operator on the many merchant ships sailing the seven seas. After many such voyages on Liberty Ships and oil tankers, he was drafted into the Army Signal Corps, where he taught anti-aircraft radar fire control at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. This inspired him to take a career in teaching. As Miles worked on his initial college degree, he also spent his summers sailing on tankers, to earn money to support his ever growing family.

Miles received his undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of Maryland (60’) and later his Master’s degree in Education from Temple University (’64) and a PhD in Education from Rutgers University (‘88 ).

Dr. Mac Mahon moved to Summit in 1960 after he accepted a faculty position at the newly opened Governor Livingston High School where taught Physics.

Before settling into his long and stellar educational career, he worked for the Atomic Energy Commission in Oak Ridge giving lectures to high schools throughout New Jersey. He was the first employee on the ground when PSE&G was looking for suitable land to build their first nuclear plant in Salem County, NJ.
After his stint in public relations, he found his passion in life to educate inner city youths in Newark, which could allow them to escape poverty through education. After Newark erupted he brought his young family to that city to participate in a healing march down Broad Street.
As a Professor of Physics at the Essex Community College, he served as Director of Natural and Applied Science, Director of Academic Foundations, and Dean of Career Programs. He was an officer and president of the New Jersey Science Teachers Association, and was on many statewide and national committees and projects. He spent 25 years at Essex County College, where he was known as an educational innovator trying many different teaching techniques, many of which he developed himself. This included the use of early computers and distance learning through “sunrise semester” on television.

He was widely respected by his fellow faculty and loved by his students, many of whom graduated with degrees from prestigious universities, and smashing the cycle of poverty found in Newark.

In 1992 he was cited by the New Jersey state Senate for commendation and praise”, for his “unselfish commitment to the residents of the city of Newark in volunteering his time to help those less fortunate than others”

Dr. Mac Mahon retired as an administrator in 1993, thus beginning yet another career, this time as a volunteer.

He was very active member the community, particularly in his cherished Summit.
Among his volunteer projects included computer consulting, developing educational programs for the Paper Mill Playhouse, and Edison National Historic site in West Orange.

An active member of the American Legion in Summit, he developed the “American Legion Post #322 American Character Award”, which is given annually to a Summit High school graduate.

In 2012, he received the “Keeper of the Dream Award” at the Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service in Summit. This recognized his lifelong commitment to civil-rights. Also in Summit, he has been a fixture in the operation since its inception in 1980, of what is now “Home Towne Television”. He received the “Fred Honold Award” for community service From HomeTowne TV in 2012. He served in almost every job at the station, and was on the board of trustees at the time of his death.

He served in promoting programs for senior citizens, including serving as the president of the Senior Connections Bus. He also served as a senior representative on the advisory board for Summit’s Department of Community Programs, since its inception.
He was active with the Summit chapter of AARP for years. Reaching beyond Summit, he was a key member of the Veterans Wireless Association in establishing a permanent exhibit at the InfoAge Museum in Wall Township, NJ.

He was involved with the New York City Parks and Recreation Department, in erecting a memorial to fellow maritime radio officers who perished on their ships. This is slated to open this spring in The Battery in lower Manhattan.

Miles had a passion for world travel, visiting 109 countries and all 7 continents. When speaking with Miles, all one had to do was mention a country of city and inevitably he would be inspired to regale you with stories of that place and leave you wishing you had been there with him.

Just a week ago Dr. Mac Mahon was surrounded by friends and colleagues as he accepted the Suburban Chamber of Commerce “Silver Service Award”. He was thrilled to receive an New Jersey legislative resolution recognizing his many years of “meritorious history of service, leadership and commitment”

He was known far and wide for his wit, warmth and intelligence. Miles was a poet, his creativity has manifested in meaningful and moving poetry that inspires all who read it. He opened his heart to bare his soul with beautiful words that transcend daily prose.

Miles was predeceased by his beloved wife Virginia in 2011, their son Patrick in 1992 and his siblings: Maureen Reinhart and Desmond Mac Mahon.
He is survived by his loving children: Margaret (Michael) D'Ecclessis, Monica (Stan) Mac Mahon, Daniel Mac Mahon, Thomas (Mary) Mac Mahon, Timothy (Cynthia) Mac Mahon, Mary Kate Mac Mahon (Dennis Shingledecker), Christopher Mac Mahon and Ginger (Kevin) Gosling; dear brother of Arthur Mac Mahon and cherished grandfather of: Michael (Lindsey) and Matthew D'Ecclessis, Paul and Carl (Kirby) Mac Mahon, Jeff (Tara) and Jon Nichol, Miles Mac Mahon, Gwendolyn & Patricia Gosling and is also survived by his great-grandchildren: David and Luke D'Ecclessis, Aiden, Alexia Nichol, and Hank Stienhauer.
In Lieu of flowers, donations in his memory to St. Joseph Social Service Center in Elizabeth, 118 Division Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07201 would be greatly appreciated.

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