By Erich Wagner (Courtesy photo)
John McEnearney, founder of prominent Old Town-based real estate firm McEnearney Associates, died October 8 of renal failure at the age of 87.
McEnearney was a staple of the Alexandria realtor community, and a frequent philanthropist to local charities and causes. Colleagues said he was a warm man, who always endeavored to help and mentor his employees.
McEnearney grew up in Trinidad, where his father ran the local Ford dealership and reportedly met Henry Ford, said Dave Hawkins, managing broker for the firm’s Old Town office. McEnearney had a “formal” upbringing, but was never condescending, Hawkins said.
“He grew up in that formal family and with that as a background, but he was very pleasant, very congenial and easy to get along with,” he said. “He loved a good joke, but always had that polish of someone who grew up in a more formal family.”
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, McEnearney was an active-duty officer in the navy for nearly three decades, serving during the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as in Antarctica, Puerto Rico and Hawaii before retiring in 1976.
Hawkins said McEnearney often quipped that the retirement was particularly short.
“He would always joke about the fact that he retired from the Navy on a Friday and then got started in the real estate business on that Saturday,” Hawkins said.
After joining a local brokerage firm in Alexandria, McEnearney quickly became a top seller for his company. As soon as he legally was able, he filed for a broker’s license. McEnearney founded the firm that bears his name in 1980.
“He always made a big point of pointing out that it was called McEnearney Associates, with no ‘and,’” Hawkins said. “He didn’t want it to be him, and then his people. He wanted it to be ‘us,’ the group. There was a big distinction in that.”
Before relinquishing the role of president to his daughter, Maureen McEnearney Dunn, in 2007, McEnearney insisted on staying intimately involved with the day-to-day work of the firm.
“It was kind of special, instead of being the kind of boss who sits up on top and lets minions do the work, he was right in there with everybody,” Hawkins said. “He was very interested in the agents and how they were doing. He encouraged education and professional development.”
McEnearney was an avid golfer, and in his younger years, a very good one, Hawkins said. And he was a major advocate of giving back to the community.
“John was big on serving the community, he was a big believer in giving back to the community that helped him build his business,” Hawkins said. “As a result, we currently probably support between 40 and 50 local charities and organizations.”
McEnearney’s wife, Ginny, died in 2009, but he is survived by their six children: Sean, Sharon, Mark, Maureen, Mike and Kathy, as well as 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, his family requests contributions be made to Capital Caring and So Others Might Eat. A funeral is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Friday at Saint Luke Catholic Church in McLean.