Jersey Journal/1963/Owen F. Langan Was Speedy in Life and Death

Owen F. Langan Was Speedy in Life and Death  (Year) 

Owen F. Langan Was Speedy in Life and Death. Owen F. Langan Was Speedy in Life and Death. "He was always in a hurry — even to die," said his son of Owen F. Langan. "Despite his age (80), he was only sick a half an hour when he died of a heart attack." The man who missed competing in the 1908 Olympics in London because of a freak accident was buried today after a requiem mass at Our Lady of Victories Roman Catholic Church, Jersey City. With Mel Sheppard, Harry Hillman, Abel Kiviat and Ernie Hertzberger, Mr. Owen, who ran the 220-yard low hurdles, formed the Irish Americans — archrivals of the New York Athletic Club, the dominant track and field club in American before the World War I. "I heard my father had to teach Mr. Kiviat, who was Jewish, the Hail Mary in order to place him on the team for Knights of Columbus meets, but the story may be apocryphal," John Langan said. Also on the team was Matt McGrath, an enormous Irishman who lifted weights and later became a New York police sergeant. Although Amateurs, the group was sponsored by many persons and organizations who "subsidized" them, such as New York's John Wannamaker and the Knights of Columbus. Mr. Langan belonged to the Fourth Regiment of the New Jersey National Guard, which was little more than a social dub until 1912. He became champion hurdler of the regiment. He also took the Metropolitan and National A.A.U. championships in 1908. One day, while riding on a trolley car bound from Greenville, Jersey City, to Schuetzen Park, Union City, he was struck on the head by a crane boom, swung from the side of the rout. "The first thing he recognized two weeks later, he said, was his training masseur, Harry Hirschburg," said his son. With the advent of the war, Mr. Langan, whose family business was contracting, went to work for the U.S. Shipping Board. He took courses at Cooper Union with the future governor and senator, A. Harry Moore. It was then he met George Brensinger and Frank Hague. After Mayor Brensinger's death on a trip to Camp Dix, Hague became mayor. Mr. Langan fell out with the mayor less than five years later, and took his business to another Irish mayor, the late James Curley of Boston. He contracted for construction of the Watertown Arsenal, the Charles Street Jail in Boston, the Schrafft's plant in Somerville and many New England housing developments. Mr. Langan also contracted to build the Glen Gardner Tuberculosis Hospital and the Shell Oil plant at Sea Warren, N.J. At the depression, he sold his business and retired. Asked by friends to become active on the Democratic National Speakers' Committee, he toured the East speaking for the ticket. In 1936 he took a post with the new Federal Housing Administration in Newark at Governor A. Harry Moore's insistence. He was obliged to quit the speakers' club because of the Hatch Act, which forbids Federal employees to engage in politics. Saddened at the death of his wife, Mary McCabe Langan, three years ago, he took new quarters at 160 Vroom Street, where he lived until his death Thursday at St. Francis Hospital.

Owen Francis Langan (1884-1963) obituary in the Jersey Journal on July 29, 1963.png

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Notes: The Amerada Hess Corporation had their Port Reading Refinery near Sewaren, New Jersey and there was also a Perth Amboy Refinery nearby. Matt McGrath is identified improperly as "Pat McGrath" in the original text. The article implies that George Brensinger was Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey prior to Frank Hague, but Hague served from May 15, 1917 to June 17, 1947. Bressinger was a member of the Jersey City Department of Revenue and Finance which awarded construction contracts.