John Mark McCarthy
John Mark McCarthy

Obituary of John Mark McCarthy

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John Mark McCarthy, known as Mark (and sometimes J. Mark), passed away peacefully at his home on June 25, 2024.

Mark was born in Syracuse, New York on November 29, 1937.  He was immediately welcomed with great joy and open arms by his two older sisters, Mary Elizabeth (Mary Beth O’Leary) and Ann Cornelia (Connie Coates), as well as his maternal aunt, Louise “Goog” McLaughlin, and his parents, Mark Patrick “Mac” and Elizabeth “Bess” (nee McLaughlin) McCarthy, who all continued to dote upon and adore him for the rest of their lives. And with good reason: he was, as they say, “one of the good ones”; full of fun and games, jokes, yo-yo tricks, ice cream runs, laughter and, whenever necessary, sage and caring advice along with unconditional love and support.

Mark’s family operated the famous McCarthy’s Seafood House on Salina Street, known far and wide for its bar, restaurant, and delicatessen during its years of operation from 1873 through 1973.  The family lived catty-corner from Maloney’s corner store on Stinard Ave. and Mark attended nearby Most Holy Rosary school.

Mark graduated from high school in 1955 and went on to study on an ROTC scholarship at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Upon his graduation from Holy Cross with a degree in Economics in 1959, he married his high school sweetheart and the salutatorian of his high school class, Margaret Ann “Peggy” Kerwin, on the 4th of July.  Mark and Peggy were married at Most Holy Rosary Church, followed by a brunch reception at Drumlin’s. Despite the McCarthy’s ownership of a restaurant at the time, for reasons unknown, Mark’s mother and father did not offer to host the traditional groom’s family’s rehearsal dinner, which was then scrambled together at the last minute by Peggy’s family and held at her house on Crossett Street.  Twenty years later, on their anniversary, Mark surprised Peggy with a “Rehearsal Dinner” at the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles, “for those who missed the first one” (wink), reuniting the members of the wedding party along with friends and family.

After a short honeymoon with a stay at the Thayer Hotel at West Point following by a honeymoon trip to Virginia Beach, Mark immediately reported for duty at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia for an officer training program in the summer of 1959.  Thereafter, Mark served in the Marines, stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where Mark and Peggy’s first two children were born.

While he was proud of the restaurant’s legacy, the life of a restaurateur is not an easy one and Mark had planned a career in the military. His plans changed after the untimely death of Mark’s father in 1962. Mark was honorably discharged from the Marines and returned to Syracuse so that he could assist in running the family’s restaurant business. While running the restaurant, Mark attended Syracuse University College of Law, graduating in 1969 and commencing his 40+ year career as a lawyer.

During his law school and young lawyer days, Mark often catered popular clam bakes for friends and colleagues using the resources of the restaurant. He was a member of the Onondaga County Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. He was admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. He was the first person that friends and family would call in times of need and crisis, when they would seek and always receive without judgment his calm counsel and support.

Mark and Peggy’s family had grown to seven children by 1973.  The family took annual camping trips for years, cramming into a Volkswagen camper and later a van, traveling first to California and back, and then off to various, understandably less ambitious trips (Montreal, Maine, Delaware, Washington, D.C. (where the family stopped in to pay a visit to Mark’s law school classmate Joe Biden, then a U.S. Senator for the state of Delaware, who graciously welcomed Mark and his large family into his Senate office even though we were not constituents). Usually, the family made a stop to see the horse races at Saratoga. Mark once won the trifecta, sealing his victory with a bet on a horse named Heloise (joking that the family always followed all her cleaning tips), winning enough to treat the family to a rare visit to Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner instead of the usual Coleman stove Spaghettios.

Mark’s robust sense of humor was often on display through his various practical jokes and puns. Mark was a yo-yo champion in his youth and continued to delight family and friends with yo-yo tricks like “walk the dog” followed by “dog bite” throughout his life, often performed while in a tuxedo on Christmas.

Mark was active as a baseball coach for South Side Little League during the years 1967 through 1979, coaching many of his children and their friends and neighbors.  All games, wins or losses, ended with loading the team and any fans into the VW bus for a trip to Marble Farms for some ice cream. His children recall only one significant disagreement between Mark and Peggy during the 64+ years of their marriage, that resulted after Mark in his capacity as baseball coach voted one of his twin boys and not the other onto the all-star team.  (Peggy was one for always giving her children more than what they might have otherwise deserved, not less: thus, the disagreement).  Later, when the children were all mostly out of the house, Mark took up golf and for decades played weekly as a member of the Skaneateles Country Club during the Spring, Summer and Fall.  He was an avid jogger for most of his life and completed the Marine Corps marathon in Washington D.C. in the early 1980s.

For Mark and Peggy’s 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2009, seventeen members of the immediate family traveled to Ireland, setting up base in a town where Mark’s longtime friend and Holy Cross roommate Charlie McCabe owned a house looking over the Atlantic on the Northwest Coast. The family traveled up near Donegal in the North to find the birthplace of Mark’s maternal grandparents and were amazed to see how similar the landscape in the northern part of Ireland was to the landscape in Skaneateles where the McLaughlin’s later settled, fleeing Ireland’s potato famine in the 1840’s, and making their fortune in the teasel business.

In 2017, after years of petitioning anyone who would listen, Mark succeeded in securing an award of the Purple Heart for his father, who also was a Marine and was injured in his early 20’s when gassed at the Battle of Belleau Wood in France during World War I.  At the time of injury, the Armed Forces of the United States took the view that a Purple Heart could only be awarded if blood was shed during the enemy attack.  This position was later changed so that a Purple Heart may be awarded if the injury was caused by an enemy-released chemical, biological, or nuclear agent such as the mustard gas used on Mark’s father. The Purple Heart for Mark Patrick McCarthy was awarded in a ceremony at Skaneateles Country Club on July 4, 2017 (which also happened to be Mark and Peggy’s 58th wedding anniversary). Semper Fi.

In more recent years until her death in September 2023, Mark had been lovingly keeping company with his wife Peggy at their home in the Strathmore area of Syracuse.  Mark received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease in 2015 and as his physical needs increased, Peggy’s ability to care for him, which was what she wanted most to do, became diminished substantially by her own diagnosis: dementia.  The family is blessed by the loving care Mark and Peggy received from home health aides Kerri, Gloria, Ashley, Kiarra, Hope, Amanda, Stephanie, Harley, Tracy, Ariana, Ivelis, Kelley, Kaliece, and others, which permitted Mark and Peggy to stay together in their home, where they received great comfort from each other’s love and presence and visits from lifelong friends and family.

Mark is predeceased by his wife of 64 years, Peggy McCarthy, and is survived by their seven children, Mark Patrick, Kathleen Elizabeth (Gennaro Bruni), Patrick Matthew (Karen), Michael Paul, Kerry Louise (Patricio Camacho), Matthew Patrick (“Moody”) (Molly Mandell) and Sara Ann, thirteen grandchildren, Mark Paraskevas, Luke Bruni, Madeline McCarthy, Sean McCarthy, Megan McCarthy, Carly McCarthy, Catherine McCarthy, Elizabeth McCarthy, Ruby McCarthy, Lola McCarthy, Mia Scott, Omar Robinson and Cassius Robinson, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A wake will be held at Ryan Funeral Home on Tuesday, July 2, 2024 from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. and a memorial mass service will be held at Most Holy Rosary Church on Wednesday July 3, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Syracuse Honor Flight ( or the Boys & Girls Club of Syracuse (

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Calling Hours

4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Tuesday, July 2, 2024
Edward J Ryan & Son Funeral Home, Inc.
3180 Bellevue Avenue
Syracuse, New York, United States
(315) 468-3443

Memorial Mass

10:00 am
Wednesday, July 3, 2024
Most Holy Rosary Church
111 Roberts Ave.
Syracuse, New York, United States
(315) 478-5749
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John Mark McCarthy

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John Mark McCarthy

1937 - 2024

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