MICHAEL MAHER KNEW BUSINESS OF STEVEDORING FROM BOTTOM UP

MICHAEL MAHER KNEW BUSINESS OF STEVEDORING FROM BOTTOM UP

Michael Maher, who died last week at 86, personified a lot of the values that have made America a powerhouse of the 20th century.

Mr. Maher, a smiling and outgoing Irishman who was born and raised in New York, worked on the waterfront while attending St. John's University where he earned a law degree in 1937. His father had been a longshoreman, and young Michael became a card-carrying member of ILA Local 791, developing ties that lasted a lifetime.During the war, Mr. Maher served as an officer in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps, working at both the ports of New York and Le Havre in France. He was discharged as a major.

In 1946, at age 37, he was a part of the generation that had survived both the Great Depression and World War II. Now it was time to get on with life. Starting with a small ocean stevedoring company, for which he exercised his veteran's rights to purchase military surplus forklifts and hoist cranes, Mr. Maher began building what was to become Maher Terminals Inc., the largest independent terminal operation on the East Coast. Energy, intelligence, toughness and charm were all part of Mr. Maher's recipe for success.

For nearly 50 years, Mr. Maher was a popular fixture in the industry, standing tall at most port and industry events, building his business, helping the less fortunate and living the American dream.

The father of five, Mr. Maher in the late 1980s turned over day-to-day management of Maher Terminals to his two sons, Brian, president, and Basil, as vice president. The transition took place at a time when Maher had suffered a 20 percent decline in its business because of carrier realignments. But the two sons more than proved their mettle, and Maher Terminals is once again a thriving business, a testament to a charismatic man who knew the business from the bottom up.