John J. McIlhinney
John J. McIlhinney was a 55-year resident of Bucks County and a 44-year resident of Doylestown.
Born on Jan. 14, 1920, in Philadelphia, he was the son of Francis P. McIlhinney (McIlhinney) of the town of Park, County Derry, Ireland, and the late Elizabeth Barton McIlhinney of County Tyrone, Ireland.
He was a self-employed real estate broker and a prominent builder.
John spent his lifetime helping people as a business and community leader. When John was 12, during the height of the Great Depression, his father died. At age 15, while attending Northeast High School, he was forced to leave school to help support the family. He completed night school and attended area colleges, including Spring Garden Institute, where he took business and real estate-related courses.
He wed Adeline DeLarso at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia in 1940.
During World War II, he worked as a machinist at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. In 1945, he received a real estate broker license, which he held his entire life. Over 30 years, he built the firm of John J. McIlhinney Real Estate, establishing 12 offices in the greater Philadelphia and suburban counties. He employed as many as 80 full-time sales people and 20 support staff.
John J. McIlhinney Real Estate broke all records in Pennsylvania real estate history achieving nearly 40,000 sales of existing homes in 25 years. They held the record for more than two decades as Pennsylvania's largest seller of homes. The firm also held the record as being the second largest seller of homes in the nation and the number one east of the Mississippi River for 10 consecutive years. In addition, John built and sold nearly 4000 new custom-style homes in the Delaware Valley. He took great joy and deliberately went out of his way in his quest to help young families get established.
Recognized for his athletic prowess at age 15, John was offered a position with two professional baseball teams, accepting a third baseman position with the Boston Red Sox. Financial times during the Depression forced him to return home to help support his family, foregoing his dream. Supporting family was always first, but he continued his love affair with baseball in later years.
In 1960, he assembled 600 acres, bordering Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County for the purpose of constructing a new professional baseball stadium. When politics precluded this stadium location, he worked closely with Jim Clark, of the Philadelphia Eagles and other notable dignitaries, ultimately developing Liberty Bell Race Track with the hope of bringing thousands of jobs to Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County. He went on to own and build many other projects of note, including the Southampton Shopping Center, Bensalem Shopping Center, Bucks County Mall, Lower Southampton Industrial Park and Camden Fibre Mills, Louis Drive Industrial Park in Warminster and many other projects.
John participated in many professional and service organizations, past president of Philadelphia Board of Realtors, many chambers of commerce, past president of Hatboro area Kiwanis, established Jamison Warwick Business Association, championing the fight in the 1980s to keep Warwick Elementary School open. He was a founding member of the Bucks County St. Patrick's Day Committee and a member of the Doylestown Chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
He was a lifelong Irish Catholic Republican, supporting numerous candidates at all levels. He helped establish and build St. Christopher's Parish in Somerton and Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Southampton.
In keeping with his nature, he did many things anonymously. His continuing belief in mentoring youth was exemplified throughout his life and when he founded Upper Southampton Athletic Association, which honored him during its 50th anniversary parade. He was a founding member of both the Doylestown and Warminster athletic associations and coached numerous teams throughout his lifetime, capturing many championships.
His greatest source of love and pride was his wife, Adeline and his family.