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Bernard P. McDonough


Industrialist and philanthropist Bernard Patrick McDonough Jr. (May 25, 1903-October 12, 1985) was born in Texas, to an Irish railroading family. His immigrant grandfather had previously settled the family in Clarksburg and later in Belpre, Ohio, near Parkersburg. Young Bernard and his sisters returned to their grandmother in Belpre after the death of their mother. He was educated there and at Notre Dame and Georgetown universities.

Leaving Georgetown University in 1925, McDonough tried various sales jobs before entering the construction business. By 1929, he specialized in building gas stations in Parkersburg and the surrounding area. McDonough continued in construction in the 1930s. He expanded operations during World War II, building railroads and entering the marine barge business in New Orleans. In 1945, he began a concrete business in Houston.

McDonough’s businesses coalesced and grew in the 1950s and later. He turned from the founding of companies to acquisitions, with key early purchases being Kanawha Sand & Gravel (1948) and the O. Ames Company (1955), a Parkersburg tool manufacturer where he had worked as a young man for 15 cents an hour. He turned to other interests as well, renewing family ties with ancestral Ireland. Eventually he had extensive investments there, including hotels and Dromoland Castle. The McDonough Company reached its full maturity as a Fortune 500 company in the 1970s, with major operations in footwear (Endicott Johnson Shoes), hand tools, and building materials. The Marmac Company continued in the barge business.

McDonough turned to philanthropy as his businesses succeeded. He made major gifts to Georgetown University, Wheeling College (now Wheeling University), and other institutions. The Bernard P. McDonough Foundation, his principal philanthropic vehicle, remains one of the largest private foundations in West Virginia. The foundation is a contributor to The West Virginia Encyclopedia.