Viking alum and volunteer Chris McGrath ’69 honored with 2014 Community Service Award

Anyone who has spent any length of time in the Viking Village – or, for that matter, in the Collinwood-Euclid neighborhood –knows that Christopher (Chris) McGrath ’69 is a good neighbor to all. Whatever the need, he is there to provide a helping hand to his school, to his church, to his community, to his family and to his friends.

Nothing – not even a stroke – will keep him down. In fact, the stroke he suffered last year became yet another tool for him to provide service to the community. He continues to use the episode to educate others about the importance of early detection and treatment.

This month, Euclid Hospital formally thanked McGrath for his devotion to the neighborhood. At the hospital’s annual Community Service Award Luncheon, he was recognized as the 2014 Community Service Award honoree for his significant contributions to the community.

McGrath and his wife, Linda, have lived on Cherokee Avenue off East 185th Street for 30 years. It is there they raised their children, Erin, Katie and Matthew. They also are the grandparents of Liam, Regan and Clare.

In making the award presentation, Rich Lea, Euclid Hospital’s interim president, cited a long list of McGrath’s activities in the neighborhood. Although McGrath’s own children have long since graduated from VASJ, he remains a driving force of the school’s Parent Action Committee and the Oarsmen booster organization.

When he is home, McGrath is focused on many community initiatives, including Block Watch, assisting neighbors with housing issues, and finding homes for stray dogs. He works to keep his community safe by checking on his neighbors and keeping an eye on vacant homes. He also serves on the Board at the Collinwood Recreation Center.

At his church, Our Lady of the Lake, he is a Eucharistic Minister and serves on Parish Council.

“When I heard about this award, I was very humbled,” McGrath said. “It actually brought tears to my eyes.”

In typical fashion, McGrath recognized the many others who do so much for the community. In particular, he spoke of fellow Viking parent and longtime volunteer Jim Tobin, who played an integral part in McGrath’s quick treatment for his stroke.

In April 2013, McGrath and Tobin were volunteering at a sports banquet at VASJ when McGrath felt an odd sensation in his hand. Tobin acted quickly. His experience as a volunteer fireman and EMS provider told him that he needed to get McGrath to Euclid Hospital immediately.

There, McGrath was administered the tPA drug that saved his life. And since then, he has been spreading the news about the drug whenever and wherever he can so that others can learn from his story.

His reaction to his health scare is not surprising. McGrath always has been about helping others. After all, that’s why he was at VASJ in the first place. He is so much a fixture at school that some folks think he’s on staff. He directs traffic, sets up chairs, collects tickets, serves on committees and does whatever else he can to keep the school strong.

When he is not working on his various community volunteer activities, McGrath is helping his friends. Last season, for example, he arranged to have a special transportation vehicle take an alum disabled by a stroke to a VASJ basketball game.

“VASJ could not have a better friend,” said Richard Osborne ’69, school president and McGrath’s classmate at both Holy Cross School and St. Joseph High School. “Chris has carried the ideals of his Catholic education into every aspect of his life. There is no one more deserving of this award.”

President Richard Osborne '69, 2014 Community Service Award winner Chris McGrath '69 and Viking Parent and longtime volunteer, Jim Tobin.