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John F McBurney, Jr

John F McBurney, Jr

(1925-2015) ~ Inducted 2016

John F. McBumey, Jr., a member of Americas “Greatest Generation,” compiled a remarkable career as a highly- decorated war hero, collegiate and professional baseball star, teacher, influential state senator from Pawtucket, and prominent trial attorney. John was born in Pawtucket in 1925 and raised in nearby Attleboro. After his graduation from Attleboro High School in 1942 he enrolled at Providence College, but soon thereafter entered the U.S. Army as a mem- ber of the 103rd Infantry Division and the Army Air Corps. He immediately engaged in combat as an infantry scout in France and the German province of Bavaria. His service also extended to Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Austria, where he completed his service as military governor of Fulpmes, a Tyrolean town then known for its ironworks. Briery captured by the Germans in an aborted prisoner exchange, John used his athleticism to escape. Before shipping overseas, he won the welterweight boxing championship of the 411th Battalion. A successful encounter with a German machine-gun emplacement earned him the Bronze Star. In 2006, John received a major, belated military award — the French Legion of Honour — for his "personal, precious contribution to the United States' decisive role in the liberation of our country.” Established in 1802 by Napoleon, this award is the highest French order for military and civil service. After the war, John returned to Providence College where he earned AAU All-American designation as a baseball centerfielder prior to his graduation in 1948. For a time he played professional baseball at the double-A level for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Giants. Then he earned a teaching certificate at Rhode Island College, entered law school at Boston College, and worked as a licensed electrician and a part- time teacher at Pawtucket West High School (now Shea) to support his studies, his new wife, Ann, and his growing family. After his 1951 law school graduation he gained admission to the Rhode Island Bar where he earned respect and renown during 60 years of trial practice. As a sole practitioner in the 1970s, he reportedly had more cases on Rhode Islands civil jury docket than any other attorney or firm. Another notable aspect of Johns legendary career was politics. He served in the Rhode Island Senate for 16 years (1959- 1975) representing Pawtucket. As senator he chaired the Judiciary Committee and the Health, Education, and Welfare Committee. He introduced such landmark legislation as the Fair Housing Act (1964), served as a delegate to the 1960 and 1964 Democratic national conventions, and was a 14-year member of the Rhode Island Board of Elections. John died on June 15, 2015 at the age of 90. He was survived by Ann, his wife of 66 years, and five of their six children — four of whom, John III, Kevin, Christine, and Mark followed their father into the practice of law.


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