Search
Close this search box.

Monday, July 22, 2024

Search

‘I Like to Think I Can Make a Difference’

‘I Like to Think I Can Make a Difference’

By Karen Knight

Patrick McGonigal adopted Judge two years ago, and enjoys relaxing in his yard in Cape May.
Karen Knight
Patrick McGonigal adopted Judge two years ago, and enjoys relaxing in his yard in Cape May.

Finance expert Patrick McGonigal deepening his ties to Cape May

Editor’s Note: Cape May County ranks 15th nationwide and first in the state as a second home destination, so this summer the Herald will be periodically featuring stories about interesting second homeowners. If you have the name of someone you would like to nominate, please email editor@cmcherald.com with the reason why and with contact information. This is the third in that series.

CAPE MAY – When Patrick McGonigal came to the Shore as a teen in the mid-1980s, he loved working at Mr. D’s Pizzeria Steaks & Subs in Wildwood, where he’d meet and befriend members of the bands playing in the area, enjoy fun times with his and his siblings’ friends, and talk to the “cute girls” at the counter.

He and his six siblings would vacation in North Cape May with their parents, renting homes over the years that could accommodate the group. As adults, the family, which was from Northeast Philadelphia, continued visiting the Shore with their growing families. Some even settled here.

Today, they often can be found visiting McGonigal, a retired financial guru with an interest in early-stage investments, at his roomy home on Beach Avenue that he renovated so it would be great for “entertaining and having fun.” Over the recent July 4th weekend, he hosted 60 family members for dinner.

“Just about every day, one of my siblings is here,” he said, “and when they are here, it’s a beach day. We love the beach. When I decided to buy this home, it needed to be renovated. I wanted a home for entertainment and to have fun. We have a lot of laughs here.”

His home, the historic 1911 John P. Forsythe House, was the 2018 Cape May Designer Show House, presented by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities after completion of a multiyear, multimillion-dollar transformation. The home was a high point of the East Cape May project in the early 1900s, which aimed to make Beach Avenue the most elegant street in the city.

Patrick McGonigal renovated his home on Beach Avenue, Cape May, and wanted it to reflect his desire for entertaining his large extended family. Photo Credit: Karen Knight

It also served as a retreat home for the Oblates of St. Francis DeSales, who taught at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia, from which McGonigal graduated in 1981, twentieth in his class. He returned to the high school in 2009, when he was appointed to its advisory board. In 2012, he was appointed the school’s part-time chief financial officer, a volunteer role he had for two years, and chair of the school’s Strategic Planning Committee.

McGonigal was a major school benefactor, and the Patrick S. McGonigal ’81 Center for Fitness and Wellness was launched in 2013 to offer fitness and wellness programming to the entire student body.

“Education is transformative,” said McGonigal, who was among his family’s first generation of college graduates. “I was one of seven children, and two of us went to college. I remember my mom telling me at an early age that I was going to college.”

After high school, he studied in Drexel University’s co-op program, earning degrees in finance and accounting. He worked for Price Waterhouse as a CPA, then transitioned into the health-care industry in the early 1990s.

While living in Atlanta, he co-founded iHelp Technologies, which marketed technology services to health-care companies. As chief financial officer, he helped the firm grow to 400 employees before he stepped down in 2009, when he returned to Philadelphia to spend more time with family.

Patrick McGonigal became an investor in Mini Melts Ice Cream, a premium, single-serve product that was started by a classmate in the cafeteria at Father Judge High School. McGonigal has a freezer from the company in his kitchen in Cape May. Photo Credit: Karen Knight

He has two grown children and three grandchildren, whom he loves to take out on his new boat, bike and go to the beach with, and share the advantages of living at the Shore.

Although he still maintains a three-bedroom home in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, he’s spending more and more time at the Shore as he meets more people and gets involved in numerous activities.

“I’ve been very lucky over the years,” McGonigal, 61, said, “and I like to think I can make a difference.”

When his mother turned 80 in 2006, for example, he recalled thinking, “What do you get an 80-year-old? Well, my mother worried about her grandchildren like any grandmother, so I told her I would take care of my nieces’ and nephews’ college costs. I put 30 through college, or I paid off their student debt for those who had already gone.”

Now that he’s retired and spending more time in Cape May, he’s making time to do what he can to help various local organizations. He is active with Cape May Shelters Lutsk, raising funds for supplies for Ukraine after attending a fundraising event a couple years ago.

He went with the group in 2022 to Warsaw, Poland, to meet Zoran Donchev, whose factory in Lutsk, Ukraine, was bombed. Ever since, Donchev and other men in the city have been acting as “boots on the ground” to help keep families — McGonigal said it’s mostly women, children and the elderly — supplied with food and other necessities.

“We’ve had several very successful fundraisers,” he said, “and the money is either spent here buying supplies and sending them over, or sending the funds to Zoran so they can buy supplies there. We’ve had donations from many of the local merchants as well, with things like hand-warmers and sweatshirts. Every single cent we raise goes toward supplies; we keep nothing here.”

At Donchev’s request, McGonigal helped his daughter come to the U.S., where she is now studying for her master’s of business administration at Drexel University, where McGonigal is still a member of the board of trustees and involved with its business school.

While spending time at one of his favorite hangouts, Elaine’s, he’s met a lot of people who have become friends. He’s gotten involved with Cape May’s chamber of commerce and with Curtis Bashaw’s campaign for a spot in the U.S. Senate. He’s donated to the Cape May Kiwanis Club and looks forward to when summertime seasonal activities slow down so he can travel, ski and do other activities with friends.

“One of my favorite places to go is the Ebbitt Room, sitting at the bar, eating their oysters, which I think are the best,” McGonigal said. He also likes the “vibe” at the Washington Inn, where he loves the bacon-wrapped dates.

“I’m almost full-time here,” he said, “and have family living nearby, so we get together quite often. I have a great group of friends as well. We all have a lot of laughs together.”

Contact the reporter, Karen Knight, at kknight@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Karen Knight is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

Spout Off

Avalon – We said it all along!! President Harris.

Read More

Sea Isle City – Joe out. Bye Felicia.

Read More

Lower Township – ANOTHER Joe Biden Lie!!! "Oh I'm NOT going anywhere"!!! We're gonna beat Donald Trump! Who lied? And about what?

Read More

Most Read

Print Editions

Recommended Articles

Skip to content