John F. McCloskey Jr., 92, former top Phila. official

John F. McCloskey Jr., as a Navy fighter pilot in WWII.
John F. McCloskey Jr., as a Navy fighter pilot in WWII.
Posted: July 03, 2012

John F. McCloskey Jr., 92, of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia's commissioner of public property under Mayor William J. Green in the 1980s, died Friday, June 22, of congestive heart failure at Keystone Hospice in Wyndmoor.

Mr. McCloskey was a key figure in several newspaper articles about the struggle between City Hall and City Council over the selection of cable-television franchises.

But he was even more the center of attention when a blizzard hit the city in February 1983.

Mr. McCloskey coordinated all city services as Philadelphia struggled for five days to dig out from a 21.3-inch snowstorm on Feb. 11, the heaviest since a 21-incher on Christmas Day 1909.

An Inquirer editorial on Feb. 17, 1983, noting his efforts, stated that "the recovery from Friday's storm has had many positive, if not miraculous, aspects to it."

Born in Chestnut Hill, Mr. McCloskey graduated from Chestnut Hill Academy and played on the University of Pennsylvania lightweight football team that won the 1940 Ivy League title for its division, his brother, Paul, said.

Mr. McCloskey dropped out of Penn in 1941 to join the Navy, his brother said. After flight school, he piloted fighter planes from three aircraft carriers, the Enterprise, the Lexington, and the Saratoga.

He worked for the Budd Co. on Red Lion Road, becoming a plant manager, spending a year at a Budd plant in Detroit, and "troubleshooting in Los Angeles for Budd," his brother said.

A January 1983 Inquirer article, reporting that Green had named him commissioner of public property, noted that he had retired in 1979 as staff manager of the Budd plant and had spent the previous three years as deputy commissioner of public property.

After leaving City Hall, Mr. McCloskey was vice president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. McCloskey was a member of the Union League, the Racquet Club, the Philadelphia Cricket Club, the British Officers Club of Philadelphia, and the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

He retired from the Naval Reserve in 1980, after serving as commanding officer of a jet fighter squadron at Willow Grove Naval Air Station.

Besides his brother, Mr. McCloskey is survived by seven nieces and nephews. His former wife, Anne, preceded him in death.

A visitation was set from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, July 2, at the Jacob F. Ruth Funeral Home, 8413 Germantown Ave. A Funeral Mass was set for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 3, at Our Mother of Consolation Church, 9 E. Chestnut Hill Ave., with interment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Contact Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or

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