Last updated: July 29. 2014 3:45PM - 12422 Views
By Bill O'Boyle boboyle@civitasmedia.com

The late Kevin McGroarty
The late Kevin McGroarty
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Kevin McGroarty's obituary

You can read the self-written obituary at:


So far, the obituary on The Times Leader Facebook site and more than 114,000 hits, 600 “likes,” 621 “shares” and nearly 50 comments, mostly from people wishing they had known him in life.

EXETER — About 300 people jammed St. Cecelia's Church Monday to say goodbye to their friend and loved one, Kevin McGroarty.
But most of those in attendance expected McGroarty to show up.
Kevin McGroarty died Tuesday and his cremated remains were interred Monday afternoon at, as he called it in his self-written obituary, his new home at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.
His cousin, Bill McGroarty, offered what Kevin might have thought about the packed church at his funeral.
“He would ask, 'Don't all these people have something better to do today?'” Bill said.
Monday's service was filled with emotion — genuine grief and sadness over losing “everybody's best friend.” There was humor, as you would expect, but the overall tone was a group-shared sense of extreme loss.
But it was McGroarty's obituary, written by him a year ago, according to his closest friends, that jettisoned McGroarty to his 15 minutes of fame following his death.
For example, McGroarty wrote:
“McGroarty Achieves Room Temperature!
“Kevin J. McGroarty, 53, of West Pittston, died Tuesday, July 22, 2014, after battling a long fight with mediocracy.
“He enjoyed elaborate practical jokes, over-tipping in restaurants, sushi and Marx Brothers movies.”
Just a sampling of the wit and humor of McGroarty, who was a self-described “veteran of the advertising industry.”
Big man, bigger heart
Tim Yurek was charged with delivering the eulogy at Monday's service. As Yurek struggled with emotion, fighting back tears, he managed to paint a clear picture of the man most in attendance knew, but many — especially those who read his obituary — wished they had known.
The Rev. Paul McDonnell, a longtime friend of McGroarty's, conducted the service and he, too, offered touching remarks about a man who literally and figuratively was larger than life. McDonnell described McGroarty as a “big man with a big heart.”
“He brought so much joy into our lives,” he said. “His obituary has become the talk of the town — well, the talk of the country actually.”
McDonnell said some are probably wondering if McGroarty really did die.
“Could he have faked his death?” McDonnell asked. “We gathered here today know that, unfortunately, is not true.”
McDonnell said McGroarty was a man of faith who flew in the face of an angry world.
“Kevin reminds us of what life is truly about,” he said. “Kevin made us laugh. He wanted us to love one another. I read in the newspaper that somebody rated this area as the unhappiest. Whoever said that never met Kevin McGroarty. The best way to remember Kevin is to imitate his life. Be good to each other every day.”
Yurek stepped to the podium and took a deep breath. He said his goal was to honor McGroarty's life.
“He was George Bailey from 'It's a Wonderful Life,'” Yurek said. “He didn't have a lot of money, but he was the richest guy in town.”
Yurek said McGroarty was an adoring son and a loving brother who had impeccable penmanship.
“And he was an incredible friend,” Yurek said. “Kevin was the person you called when you needed someone to talk to — a shoulder to cry on, to share successes with. He was a good listener.”
A cell phone went off in church and Yurek said, “Get that, it's probably Kevin.” Yurek said you could trust McGroarty with a secret or a million dollars. He admitted his faults and was well-aware of his blessings.
But Yurek said, McGroarty was a boy from Wyoming — the town he grew up in and loved.
“He cherished his roots,” Yurek said. “His passing leaves a huge hole.”
In 2012, with the talk of the end of the world soon to come, Yurek said McGroarty posted this on Facebook:
“No matter how it comes, it's been a great ride. I've enjoyed every minute of it. Adios to those I love; you know who you are.”
With that, Yurek ended his eulogy with, “Adios, Kevin.”
As McGroarty's urn was taken from the church, with his family and friends following, “When Irish Eyes Were Smiling” played in the background.
Later in the day, three of his closest friends — Sam Rizzo, Dave Fusco and Jim Dellarte — fought back tears at Pat Patte's Sports Bar and they talked about their late friend and his zest for life.
“There are a lot of life lessons to be learned from the way Kevin led his life,” Rizzo, 53, said.
Noting good deeds
The three talked about McGroarty and his almost uncontrollable penchant for helping/rewarding those less fortunate and those who performed random acts of kindness, like the time in Las Vegas when a vagrant approached Rizzo and McGroarty and others asking for a couple of bucks.
Nobody responded, except McGroarty.
“He handed the guy a fifty dollar bill,” Rizzo said. “And he asked the vagrant to promise him that he would have at least a sandwich and not spend it all on booze.”
Rizzo asked McGroarty why he did that and his response was, “Someday that might be me.”
And then at Grotto Harveys Lake, a group came in after an afternoon of boating. They had their valuables in a bag that they set on the floor. When they were leaving, they forgot the bag and two young women grabbed it and ran after the people to return it.
“Kevin asked the waitress for their bill and he paid it,” Dellarte said. ” The waitress asked who shall I say paid the bill and Kevin told her it didn't matter; that they didn't know each other. The waitress asked why he would pay their bill and Kevin just said that he saw them do a nice deed for someone.”
Fusco said his daughter broke her ankle and was in the hospital for surgery. When Kevin found out, he would send her flowers, candy, gifts every day.
“That was Kevin,” he said. “That's where his heart was.”
Earlier in the day, the three friends greeted all of the visitors at church. They were amazed at the number of people who they didn't know, but who knew Kevin. And there were several people who only knew him from his obituary.
“One man told me he never met Kevin, but he read his obituary and he wanted to come and see what he was all about.”
Fusco visited McGroarty on the night before he died. It was 9:30 p.m.
“He told me he didn't receive guests after 9 p.m.,” Fusco said. “Now get out of here, he told me.”
Fusco, Rizzo and Dellarte laughed — and cried. They said they already miss their friend.
And, they said, they always will.

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