Brilliant lawyer, able statesman, renowned orator, exemplary fraternalist, these few phrases only too inadequately epitomize the career of the patron of George F. Monaghan Council No. 2690.
George Francis Monaghan was born in Detroit October 27, 1876, a son of Patrick and Margaret Monaghan. Orphaned at an early age, he provided the means for his education through his own labors. His primary education was secured at Holy Trinity parochial school, and in 1894, he was graduated from Detroit College (now the University of Detroit) with the degree of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts. Two years later he completed a course in the Detroit College of Law with the degree of Bachelor of Law, when he was only twenty. Under the rules, he could not practice for a year until he was twenty one.
Meantime, he continued his studies in the office of James H. Pound, and after his admission to the bar, he formed a partnership with Mr. Pound. There he associated with a group of young Irishmen who won fame for themselves and prestige for their ancestry.
In 1906 he formed a partnership with his cousin, Peter J. Monaghan; and almost immediately he won recognition for his ability and demonstrated his comprehensive familiarity with the principles of jurisprudence. In his young manhood he made a statewide reputation for himself as a student of criminal law, but though he figured in some of the most famous murder trials in Michigan, he deserted this branch of legal work early in his career and concentrated his efforts and attention upon civil law, largely specializing in corporation practice.
He was elected to the Michigan State Senate at the age of twenty two. He at once became an outstanding figure of the legislature because of his tireless, open hostility to the influences which he believed at the time to be undesirable and corrupt in civil government. However, he was never ambitious to hold public office, and soon retired to devote his time and his exceptional talents to the private practice of law. That he chose a lifework for which nature evidently intended him was manifest in the positions to which he soon attained. His brilliant mind, naturally analytical, logical and inductive; his great oratorical abilities, brought him prominently to the front, and until his death he was a most distinguished figure at the Michigan Bar.
On February 25, 1903 he was united in holy wedlock with Miss Alice May Kotcher. The union was blessed with a son, George Francis, Jr., and two daughters, Alice Elizabeth and Margaret.
Despite the heavy and continuous demands made upon the time and talents of our beloved patron, he yet found time to further the cause of Columbianism, which he loved with a deep and enduring love. He was a charter member of Detroit Council, No. 305 and was that Council’s third Grand Knight. He served three terms in this office, and his energy and ability attracted the attention of Edward L. Hearn, then Supreme Knight of the Order and in 1900 he was appointed Territorial Deputy, before the Michigan State Council was organized. Later, he was chosen State Deputy and served several terms in that capacity. He brought to this position the same driving force and boundless energy and enthusiasm which characterized his professional life. Immediately Councils began to spring up throughout the entire state. He traveled the length and breadth of Michigan in all seasons and condition of weather exemplifying the degrees of the Order. So fruitful were his tireless efforts that Michigan was raised to the rank of a jurisdiction. His outstanding work was recognized by the Supreme Council of the Order by his unanimous election to the Supreme Board of Directors, a position he held for ten years, until his death. It was due alone to his persistent refusals to accept, that the highest honor within the power of the Order to bestow that of Supreme Knight was not accorded him.
At the early age of forty three years on July 11, 1920, George Francis Monaghan was called to his Eternal Reward. With his passing Michigan lost a distinguished citizen, Columbiansim a beloved friend and leader, and Holy Mother Church a true and devoted son. Mrs. Monaghan passed away in 1955 and George F. Monaghan, Jr. was killed in an automobile accident at the age of twenty five. Mrs. Louis (Alice Elizabeth) Colombo resides in Bloomfield Hills and Mrs. Jean (Margaret) Mesritz lives in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. It was Father M. E. Halfpenny, pastor of St. Brigid’s Parish, who suggested that our Council be named after the untiring pioneer in Michigan and National Columbianism the late George F. Monaghan. Members of George F. Monaghan Council No. 2690 on this occasion respectfully salute those early pioneers in selecting the name of George F. Monaghan for whom the Council is named and to whose cherished memory our labors for Columbianism are dedicated.
Fred A. Chevillot.