Jefferson Frederick Meagher, Salutatorian '31, a lawyer long prominent in the civic life of his native Binghamton, NY, and a past president of the Alumni Association and former trustee of the College, was born on October 19, 1908. The elder son of Frederick J., Class of 1899, and Jane O'Neil Meagher, he came to College Hill in 1927 from Binghamton Central High School, where he had been president of his class. It was only the first of many presidencies Jeff Meagher was to hold during his lifetime, the second being freshman class president at Hamilton. A member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, he quickly displayed his public speaking skills by capturing the McKinney Prize for declamation. Called "Demosthenes, Junior" ("Deme," for short), he focused most of his abundant extracurricular energies on journalism in addition to debate. He became editor-in-chief of Hamilton Life and won national contests for his newspaper contributions.
Elected president of the journalism and forensic honorarys Pi Delta Epsilon and Delta Sigma Rho, Jeff Meagher also served as president of the Political Science Club. For four years a member of the Choir, he sat on the Upperclassman Council and was tapped for Pentagon. Despite all those activities, he paid sufficient attention to studies to gain election to Phi Beta Kappa and earn the right to deliver the Latin Salutatory.
Not long after his graduation with honors in political science and public speaking in 1931, Jeff Meagher entered Yale Law School. He obtained his LL.B. degree in 1935 and thereafter joined his father in the practice of law in Binghamton, forming the firm of Meagher & Meagher. He was soon elected president of the Binghamton Recreation Association and the Young Republican League.
In subsequent years Jeff Meagher served as president of the Broome County Historical Society, the Humane Society, and the Association for Retarded Children (ARC), as well as of the Binghamton Civic Forum and the Community Symphony Society. He also chaired the first public fund drive for the benefit of Lourdes Hospital, resulting in its considerable expansion. The first recipient of the Binghamton Chamber of Commerce's Man of the Year Award, Mr. Meagher was in addition a member of the Municipal Civic Service Commission for several years.
Besides his generosity of commitment to his community, Jefferson Meagher took a leadership role among his colleagues, serving as president of the Broome County Bar Association and of the Federation of Bar Association of the Sixth Judicial District. His professional associates remember his as. "a lawyer's lawyer who loved knotty legal problems and loved solving them."
Jeff Meagher was also an intensely involved alumnus who served Hamilton in numerous capacities through the years. A past president of the Southern New York Alumni Association in 1956-57. In addition, he served the College as an alumni trustee from 1946 to 1951 and was an actively contributing member of countless college and alumni committees. In recent years he was the Class of 1931 correspondent for this magazine, and he served as the Half-Century Annalist at Reunions' 81.
A highly cultured man whose interests encompassed music, art, and literature, Jeff Meagher was both a collector of books and a voracious reader, especially of English literary classics. First introduced to the appreciation of art by Edward Root on College Hill, he also collected prints for many years, eventually assembling more than SOO of them, beginning with a Thomas Hart Benton in 1935.
Jefferson Meagher, who continued to practice law into his 80's, died on July 19, 1997, in Binghamton, of a pancreatic tumor. He is survived by his wife, the former Mary E. Sebesta, whom he had married in Binghamton on August 8, 1940. Also surviving are two daughters, Mary Elaine Meagher and Ann Barry Meagher; two granddaughters and a grand~on, J. Antonio Castro '91; three sisters and a brother, Frederick J. Meagher '36; and nieces and nephews, including William R. Meagher '79.
Frederick J. Meagher, former Broome county attorney and one-time head of the country bar association, died this morning at 5:15 o'clock at his home, 16 Lincoln avenue. He was 63.
Mr. Meagher suffered a breakdown last February and death resulted from a combination of heart and kidney diseases. the body was removed to the McDevitt Brothers Funeral Home, 88-90 Front street, and will be returned to the home Saturday morning. Funeral services probably will be held Monday.
Seven years out of law school, Mr. Meagher was picked at 32 by Governor Charles E. Hughes to succeed Roger P. Clark as district attorney of Broome county. When Mr. Clark resigned from the prosecutor's office Mr. Meagher was serving as assistant to Corporation Counsel Burr Mosher.
Prior to this appointment, and within Three years after his graduation from Hamilton College as a Phi Beta Kappa man, Mr. Meagher was a member of the New York State Board of Statutory Consolidation, a commission at Albany for legal clarification of existing statutes.
He was district attorney for seven years, elected twice to office after his executive appointment expired. He left the office Jan. 1, 1916.
The son of Jefferson J. Meagher and Mary Sullivan Meagher, he was born in Binghamton, Dec. 21, 1876, and attended Binghamton Central High School. During his high school and college years he gained a wide reputation as a debater. Member of the high school class of 1895, and Hamilton 1899, young Meagher began his legal career with the Binghamton firm of Curtiss was U.S. Attorney and Republican political writer. Thomas J. Keenan is now senior partner of Keenan, Harrison & Coughlin.
Mr. Meagher was admitted to the bar in 1901 and opened his own office. In 1904 he was named to the board of statutory consolidation and moved to Albany, where he lived for the next three years. He came back to his hometown to become assistant corporation counsel.
Prominent in Southern Tier Republican politics, Mr. Meagher was active in the Broome G.O.P. organization and served as delegate to county, judicial, senatorial, congressional and state Republican conventions.
Attorney for the Erie railroad, he represented that corporation in litigation that followed the 1933 train wreck here that killed 14 persons.
Shortly before he was appointed district attorney by the governor Mr. Meagher married Miss Jane O'Neil of Binghamton, daughter of Matthew O'Neil, a stove merchant. Mrs. Meagher died in 1934.
Surviving Mr. Meagher are two sons, Jefferson F. and Frederick J.; three daughters, Jane, Helen, and Mary; two sisters, Mrs. James J. Hickey of 64 Laurel avenue and Mrs. John J. Hand of New Milford, Pa.
One of the county's older practicing attorneys, Mr. Meagher was elected president of the Broome County Bar Association for 1931, 1932, and 1933. His administration was marked by the position of the bar group to proposals that the governor held power of appointment over the bench of the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.
Also, in 1931, Mr. Meagher instituted a plan to further reforms in court calendars, with the result they were brought up to date. He participated, as bar president, in former Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt's program to weed out obsolete laws and to coordinate state departments. Mr. Meagher headed the legal delegation that received the governor's commissioners in Binghamton in May, 1932.
During the World War Mr. Meagher was a "four-minute man" and made public addresses in behalf of the Liberty loans and Red Cross drives.
He was also credited with a large shore of the legal work that eventually resulted in the Erie railroad changes from grade crossings to overhead crossings in Broome County.
He was a parishioner of St. Patrick's church; a past grand regent of Binghamton Council 206, Knights of Columbus; and a former president of the Binghamton chapter of the Hamilton Alumni association. Following the death of the Ret. Rev. Mgr. John J. McLoghlin, former pastor of St. Patrick's church, he successfully upheld Father McLoghlin's will through the Appellate Division and the estate was distributed for charitable purposes as originally intended.